Car Accident Claims: Comparative and Contributory Negligence

In a car accident case, comparative and contributory negligence are defenses that enact when time arrives to distinguish two main topics:

  • The extent to which every driver was in the wrong for the crash

  • How much economic liability, if any, every driver will assume for damages originating from the crash.

In a normal car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that the defendant’s carelessness or negligence brought about the crash and that the defendant should be held responsible for the plaintiff’s damages, including any injuries and vehicle damage.  car-accident-loewy-law-firm-austin-texas

In reply to the plaintiff’s claims, the defendant could use the rules of comparative and contributory negligence to establish that the plaintiff played a part in instigating the car accident. If used effectively, comparative and contributory negligence might decrease a plaintiff’s economic recuperation, or even obstruct it entirely. While the two defenses share a few resemblances, there are main variations between comparative and contributory negligence.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the more frequent of the two defenses. Comparative negligence separates fault between the plaintiff and defendant according to a percentage. For instance, a man alleges that a woman is indebted him damages because she ran a red light and struck his car. In reply to the man’s claims, the woman might prepare a comparative defense. She might allege that the man made an unlawful turn and should never have been in the intersection. Therefore, he assumes some percentage of liability for instigating the accident. The case proceeds to trial, and the jury finds that the man acquired damages of $100,000. The jury additionally finds that the man was thirty percent liable for the accident, and the women was seventy percent liable. Under comparative negligence rules, the woman must pay the man $70,000.

Different states have different comparative negligence rules. However, the two most frequent rules are as follows:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence. In pure comparative negligence jurisdictions, a negligent plaintiff might recuperate payment from any other party who assumes some extent of liability for the car accident, despite the plaintiff’s own percentage of fault. Even a plaintiff who is found to be ninety percent at fault for an accident might still recuperate payment for ten percent of his or her damages.

  • Modified Comparative Negligence. In states that adheres to modified comparative negligence rules, a plaintiff will be forbidden from recuperating any damages in any way if he or she is considered to be at least fifty percent liable for instigating the car accident. However, a plaintiff whose share of liability is anything at most fifty percent keeps the right to obtain payment, in an amount up to the percentage of the other party’s fault.

Contributory Negligence

The rule of contributory negligence is more severe to negligent plaintiffs and is adhered to only in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C. In these states, a defendant can evade liability overall by proving that the plaintiff’s own negligence was a factor in the accident. There is no limit to satisfy under contributory negligence rules. If a plaintiff is found to be only one percent at fault for instigating the accident, he or she will be refused any opportunity at payment.