Personal injury cases are rarely cut and dry when it comes to assigning blame. Often, multiple parties share some degree of responsibility for an accident or injury. In such cases, the legal doctrine of comparative negligence comes into play.
Understanding Comparative Negligence:
Comparative negligence, sometimes referred to as contributory negligence, is a legal concept used to determine how much compensation an injured party can receive when they are partially at fault for their injuries. It acknowledges that in many accidents, fault is not one-sided.
Key Points to Know:
Percentage of Fault: In states that apply comparative negligence, the court determines the percentage of fault for each party involved in the accident. This assessment is used to calculate the final compensation.
Pure Comparative Negligence: In some states, a pure comparative negligence system is in place. Under this system, an injured party can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault, but the compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if the injured party is deemed 30% at fault, their compensation is reduced by 30%.
Modified Comparative Negligence: Other states follow a modified comparative negligence system. In these states, an injured party can only recover damages if their share of fault is less than or equal to a certain percentage (often 50% or 51%, depending on state laws). If they are found to be equally or more at fault than the other party, they may not recover any damages.
Impact on Compensation: The impact of comparative negligence can be significant. For example, if you are involved in a car accident and are found 20% at fault, and your total damages amount to $10,000, you would receive $8,000 (after deducting your 20% share of fault).
Why Comparative Negligence Matters:
Comparative negligence is crucial in personal injury cases because it can significantly affect the compensation an injured party receives. It promotes fairness by taking into account the degree of fault of all parties involved.
Legal Representation Is Essential:
Navigating comparative negligence can be complex. Insurance companies often try to shift more blame onto the injured party to minimize their payout. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is vital to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.
In personal injury cases, comparative negligence underscores the importance of a thorough investigation and skilled legal representation to establish and defend your position regarding fault.