Every day, people are wounded, and property is damaged in accidents. When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, such as auto accidents, people usually ask, “Who was at fault for the wrongful act?” When the answer to this issue is not totally obvious, the contributory and comparative negligence ideas address it and give a mechanism to distribute responsibility amongst parties. As the phrases suggest, a party may contribute to or be comparably negligent for their harm. Talk to a personal injury lawyer today to learn more.
What is comparative negligence?
In some states, comparative negligence is a tort law that applies to casualty insurance. According to comparative negligence, when an accident happens, each party’s responsibility and/or negligence is determined by their contributions to the accident. This enables insurers to identify faults and pay insurance claims.
What is modified comparative fault?
If someone is entirely to blame for an accident, they are legally responsible for all damages. This covers the price of your injuries, property damage, and any other expenditures due to the accident. If you acquire losses from an accident and are less than 50% at blame, you can claim money based on your degree of fault under modified comparative fault. This is based on modified comparative negligence, which allocates damages based on how much each party is at fault.
Understanding the doctrine of comparative negligence
The criteria for when a victim can file a claim differ by state, as some use pure comparative negligence rules while others use modified comparative negligence rules.
- Pure comparative fault states
In these states, a plaintiff can collect compensation even if the offender had only a minor role in inflicting the damage.
- Modified comparative fault states
A plaintiff could receive compensation in these states only if the defendant was at least 50% or 51% responsible for causing the damage, depending on the state. Again, the damage award would be lowered based on the victim’s amount of fault.
The 50% bar rule
Modified comparative fault applies only if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. You will not be able to recover any damages if you are 50% or more at fault. This is the 50% bar rule, followed by around 12 states in the United States, and allows victims to recover damages even if they are negligent.
Modified comparative negligence can benefit accident victims, but it also encourages insurance companies to hunt for little details that could lead to an unfair assignment of guilt. That is why it is a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can assist you in proving the other individual was entirely at fault.