What is Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Cases?

Frequently, more than one party is at least partially to blame for an accident that results in a serious injury. Sometimes, more than one party bears legal liability, and the responsible parties share the costs. Things become more complicated when the injured party holds some fault for the accident.

When an injured party is partially at fault, contributory negligence will come into play and could potentially reduce their damages award. Contributory negligence laws can be confusing, so it is best to consult with an attorney before pursuing legal action. A lawyer could help establish other parties’ fault and ensure that the injured party does not hold more than their share of blame for the accident.

Determining Fault in Personal Injury Cases

Accidents often happen so suddenly that it is not always clear what happened, so it is critical to get qualified legal assistance as soon as possible. A skilled local attorney could review evidence such as eyewitness accounts, police reports, and medical records to determine liability.

The at-fault party in an accident is the person whose actions or inactions caused the injury, either through negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or willful misconduct. If a local court determines that a person is at fault for an accident, that means that the person is legally responsible for compensating the injured party’s losses.

Shared Blame Situations

There are certain situations where an injured party contributes to the accident. When the injured person and another party are partially to blame, different states apply certain rules about approaching the shared fault.

Pure Contributory Negligence

Pure contributory negligence is the harshest standard. In states that apply a pure contributory negligence standard, it is difficult for a claimant to recover damages if they shared any fault in the accident. For example, if a drunk driver hit a claimant who was speeding at the time of the accident, that claimant might be deemed partially responsible for the accident because they were speeding. Even though the drunk driver has more fault in the wreck, the claimant would be barred from recovering any damages in states that observe a pure contributory negligence standard.

Comparative Fault

Comparative fault standards are more generous. States that apply a comparative fault standard look at the degree of fault of all the involved parties. They determine and assign a percentage of blame by looking to see how much each party contributed to the accident. For example, in the example mentioned above, a court might conclude that the drunk driver was 95 percent to blame, while the injured driver who drove too fast was only 5 percent at fault. In a state that utilizes a pure comparative fault standard, that injured driver could recover 95 percent of their losses.

Discuss Contributory Negligence with a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney

Contributory negligence laws can complicate an injury case. If you are unsure of whether your role in an accident will prevent you from recovering compensation, reach out to a knowledgeable local lawyer immediately. A seasoned attorney could assess your case and help you determine your legal options.