A closer look at the legal concepts that can affect fault and damages in personal injury cases.
Negligence is a legal concept that refers to the failure of an individual to exercise reasonable care in performing an action that results in harm or damage to another person or their property. In personal injury cases, negligence is often a critical element that must be established before a plaintiff can recover damages. There are two types of negligence: contributory negligence and comparative negligence. While both relate to the degree of fault on the part of the injured party, they differ in their application and the impact they have on a personal injury case.
Contributory negligence is a legal defense that can be used by a defendant in a personal injury case. It asserts that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to their injury, and therefore, the plaintiff should be barred from recovering any damages. Contributory negligence is an all-or-nothing defense, meaning that if the plaintiff is found to have contributed in any way to their injury, they cannot recover any damages from the defendant. For example, if a pedestrian is hit by a car while jaywalking, and a court finds that the pedestrian was even 1% responsible for the accident, they will not be able to recover any damages from the driver.
Comparative negligence, on the other hand, is a legal concept that allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they are partially responsible for their injuries. Under comparative negligence, the court will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident. The plaintiff’s damages are then reduced by their percentage of fault. There are two types of comparative negligence: pure and modified. In pure comparative negligence, the plaintiff can recover damages even if they are 99% responsible for their injuries, although their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. In modified comparative negligence, the plaintiff can only recover damages if they are less than 50% responsible for their injuries.
The difference between contributory and comparative negligence lies in the application of fault in determining liability. Contributory negligence can result in a complete bar to recovery for the plaintiff if they are found to have contributed to their injuries in any way. Comparative negligence, on the other hand, allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they are partially at fault, although their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. In both cases, it is essential to establish the degree of fault and its impact on the case. Personal injury cases can be complex, and it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney to navigate the legal process and maximize your chances of recovery.