A Guide To Comparative Negligence

Comparative Negligence

In case of a car accident, many assume the negligent driver that caused the accident is responsible and should be held fully liable. However, not all cases are that simple because there are many scenarios where both drivers are at fault to some degree. In these cases, comparative negligence is used to determine compensation.


A Deeper Look At Comparative Negligence

Comparative Negligence

The comparative negligence concept is a principle of tort law used to determine blame and subsequently, compensation in different states, such as comparative negligence in Washington

Comparative negligence states that in the event of an accident, blame assigned to the number of people involved in the accident should be based on each of their individual negligence that resulted in the accident. This means even the injured party in the accident can be held responsible if their actions contributed in part to the accident.

When it comes to court proceedings, the judge and jury will assign blame depending on the degree of their negligence, and the insurance company will use this to determine the compensation the person receives.

Comparative negligence also states, once percentages of the blame have been assigned to both the accused and the accuser, the accused can only pay damages up to the limit of their assigned blame. For example, if the accused was 50% to blame for the accident, they will only pay 50% of the damages to the accuser.


What Are The Types Of Comparative Negligence

Car accident

Pure Contributory Negligence

Here, the accuser can be denied compensation if found at fault, no matter how minor that fault may be. For example, if the accuser is found to have been 5% at fault in the accident, the accused, who was 95% at fault, doesn’t have to pay any damages to the accuser.

However, there are some instances that might not apply. If the accuser can prove there was even the smallest thing the accused could have done to stop the accident and didn’t do it, the accuser can still receive compensation even if they are partially to blame for the accident.

If the accuser can also prove the accused acted maliciously and intentionally caused the accident, the accused cannot prevent the accuser from getting compensation.

The states that use this rule are Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.


Pure Comparative Negligence

Here, the accuser is entitled to compensation equivalent to the percentage of blame assigned to the accused. It doesn’t matter if most of the responsibility was assigned to them; they will still receive the small compensation that wasn’t their fault. For instance, if the accused was assigned 10% blame, he must pay the accuser 10% of the damages.

The 13 states that use this rule are Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington.


Modified Comparative Negligence

This is the most common type of comparative negligence, and there are two types of modified comparative negligence that exist.

  • 50% Bar rule

Here, the accuser cannot be compensated if their fault was determined to be 50% or more. This rule is used in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.

  • 51% Bar rule

Here, the accuser cannot be compensated if their fault is determined to be 51% or more. This is used in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.


Contact A Lawyer In Case Of Questions On Comparative Negligence

Car accident professional lawyer

Understanding the comparative negligence laws can be a challenge. When you’re unsure about the liability and negligence laws in your state, contact an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the complex process and to protect yourself financially.

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Praneet Samaiya
the authorPraneet Samaiya