Contributory and Comparative Negligence: What if You’re Partially at Fault?

Comparative NegligenceAccidents unfortunately happen every day and the same incidents lead to people suffering from injuries varying in severity. The first thing that comes to mind in such cases is the question of who is at fault. Both parties will make a claim and seek damages, but both sides may be liable because of contributory and comparative negligence.

Contributory Negligence

To prove that a defendant was at fault, the case must meet all the elements of negligence. Certain cases, however, involve both parties being partially at fault.

Contributory negligence involves conduct that leads to unreasonable risk to one’s self that may result in an accident. The concept behind this is that a person has a duty to act reasonably in any situation. When an individual fails to do so and causes harm, he or she may be partially or entirely responsible, even though there was a third party involved.

When an injured person files a claim, the defendant has the option to make a counterclaim based on contributory negligence. This states that the injury occurred partially because of a plaintiff’s actions. If proven, the plaintiff may not get any or only get partial damages because of their role in the injury. Law firms such as Osmond Associates can help you determine the degree of negligence or if you are partially at fault.

Comparative Negligence

Many states have adopted a comparative negligence approach for determining contributory negligence. In such cases, the amount of damages a plaintiff may receive will depend on each side’s degree of negligence.

Traditionally, courts perceived contributory negligence as a complete exclusion of receiving damages. If an injured person contributed to the injury, they will not get any compensation. To reduce this harsh outcome, many states adopted comparative negligence.

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence involves the totaling of a plaintiff’s damages and then later reducing to reflect his or her role in the injury.
  2. Modified Comparative Negligence involves plaintiffs not receiving damages, if he or she is equally or more responsible for their injuries. To recover damages, the plaintiff must not be more than 50% at fault.

Seek legal advice if you think that a plaintiff is partially at fault and their involvement is what caused injury. Once you prove the degree of negligence, you can make a counterclaim or resolve the case out of court.