How Does Comparative Or Contributory Negligence Impact Your Claim?

How Does Comparative Or Contributory Negligence Impact Your Claim?
Photo by Markus Frieauff / Unsplash

Have you been in an accident and sought compensation for damages? Do you understand the concepts of comparative and contributory negligence? Depending on the state, percent negligence can significantly impact your claim. Not all states follow the same rules regarding comparative and contributory negligence.

Some states follow contributory negligence, which can prevent you from being awarded for injuries in an injury claim. Most states follow modified comparative negligence, which bars recovery if the injured party is more than 50 or 51 percent at fault. Personal injury attorneys work to reduce your liability exposure to maximize your case value.

Accidents in Florida in particular can be quite complex. This is because the state followed a joint and severally liable regulation until 2006. If your accident claim dates back to the early 2000’s, it is advisable to consult with a car accident attorney in Orlando to determine which theory of negligence applies in your case.

Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence

Comparative negligence is a legal theory that assigns fault to each party involved in an accident. Under comparative negligence, the injured party can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault. However, the damages awarded will be reduced in proportion to their percentage of fault.

For example, in a car accident you were found to be 30 percent at fault, your damages would be reduced by 30 percent. So, if your total damages were $21,000, you would only receive $14,700.

On the other hand, contributory negligence is a legal theory that bars recovery of damages if the injured party is found at fault for the accident even slightly. This means that if you are found to be as low as one percent at fault, you cannot recover any damages.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence assigns negligence based on a liability threshold. There are two types of comparative negligence - pure and modified. These designations affect how plaintiffs can recover in a lawsuit.

Types Of Comparative Negligence

  • Pure Comparative - Under this rule, the fault is assigned by a percentage based on the evaluated facts of a case. For example, a driver would only receive 10 percent of their claim if a judge finds them to be 90 percent responsible.
  • Modified Comparative - Under this rule, there are two designations to consider: 50 and 51 percent rules. If drivers are found at fault by more than 50 percent, they cannot receive any claim benefits. The same applies to the 51 percent rule. The two amounts are driven based on jurisdictions.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is black and white. If a plaintiff is at least one percent responsible for injury, they won't receive compensation for their injuries. Contributory negligence is allowed in a handful of states: Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Contributory negligence is easy to argue. For example, if a defendant rear-ends a plaintiff, the defendant can argue contributory negligence. The defendant must prove the plaintiff was negligent, such as broken tail lights or unsafely pulling out in front of the defendant.

How Can An Attorney Help With Percent Negligence?

An experienced injury attorney reviews your case for possible liability exposure. This evaluation is especially critical if you are in one of four contributory negligence jurisdictions. The injury attorney will prepare your case to defend against contributory negligence. If a judge agrees to credible negligence, your claim benefit will be reduced or eliminated.

Comparative negligence defense is equally as sensitive as contributory negligence. Furthermore, comparative negligence is the most common approach for determining compensation in the United States. So if you meet with a car accident in Orlando, hiring a qualified attorney could be detrimental to your case.

Since Florida is a pure comparative state, your insurance coverage could be impacted if you are found more negligent in an accident than what is reasonable. An accident attorney also works to prevent insurance companies from using comparative negligence unfairly.

Final Thoughts

Comparative and contributory negligence can significantly impact your claim for damages. By knowing the rules in your state, you can prepare a better defense. You should consult a personal injury attorney to help guide you through the legal process. If you suspect you are partly responsible for an injury claim, contact an auto accident attorney who can evaluate your case with a consultation.

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