Personal Injury Lawyer
Comparative negligence is defined as a tort rule that is used for allocating damages when both parties are proven to share some of the fault that contributed to an accident or injury. When it is proven that the plaintiff and defendant were both negligent, a jury will decide how much at fault each party was (usually using a percentage). Once each party’s percentage of fault is determined, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, driver A is looking to make a left turn out of a parking lot. Driver A looks in both directions to ensure that it is clear for him to make the turn. He sees driver B but determines that there is enough time for him to make his turn and doesn’t account for driver B’s speeding. Driver A makes his left turn and is hit by Driver B. The accident is the fault of both drivers because driver A should have waited for driver B to pass before making his turn and driver B shouldn’t have been speeding. Driver A then decides to sue driver B for his injuries. A jury finds that driver B was responsible for 70% of the accident and driver A was 30% responsible. The damages awarded to driver A were $30,000 but he will only be able to collect $21,000 due to his 30% fault.
Comparative negligence principles vary by the state in which the accident occurs. Examples of comparative negligence rules recognized by states are:
Pure comparative negligence: allows plaintiffs to pursue compensation from the at-fault party even if the plaintiff is 99 percent at fault. It is important to note that a plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by their determined degree of fault. 13 states recognize the pure comparative negligence rule, these states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington.
Pure contributory negligence: this principle completely bars plaintiffs from any recovery of damages if they are found to be even one percent liable for their injuries. Only four states apply this rule: Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. Washington D.C. also applies the pure contributory negligence model but allows an exception for motor vehicle accidents that involve pedestrians or bicycles.
Modified comparative negligence: the other 33 states follow the modified comparative negligence principle. If this principle is used, a plaintiff is barred from obtaining compensation if they are found to be 50 or 51 percent liable for their injury. The 11 states that follow the 50% fault rule are Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
The 22 states that follow the 51% fault rule are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, a catastrophic injury lawyer in Las Vegas, NV can advise you on the complexities of negligence law and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight on comparative negligence.