What is Comparative Negligence, and How Does it Affect My Case?

When someone gets injured due to another party’s negligence, they may file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the defendant could argue that the plaintiff also played a role in causing the incident. This concept is known as comparative negligence. It means that if the plaintiff contributed to the accident, even partially, their compensation might be reduced accordingly. Comparative negligence might seem confusing, but it is important to know how it works and how it can impact the outcome of your personal injury case. 

So, What is Comparative Negligence?

In some states, comparative negligence applies when all parties involved in an accident are to blame to some degree. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff (the injured party) has the burden of proving that the defendant (the allegedly negligent party) was responsible for causing their injuries. However, if evidence shows that the plaintiff acted negligently and contributed to the accident, the defendant can raise the comparative negligence defense.

Under this doctrine, the compensation the plaintiff can receive will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault. For instance, if a jury determines that the plaintiff suffered $100,000 in damages but was 30% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff’s compensation would be reduced by 30%, leaving them with $70,000.

It is crucial to note that in some states if the plaintiff’s negligence exceeds a certain threshold (typically 50% or 51%), they may be barred from recovering any damages. This is known as the “modified” comparative negligence rule.

The comparative negligence principle allocates liability fairly between the parties based on their respective degrees of negligence, ensuring that no one profits from their fault.

Understanding Comparative and Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence and comparative negligence are two different legal doctrines that determine how fault is allocated in personal injury cases where both parties share some degree of responsibility.

Under the contributory negligence rule, if the plaintiff (the injured party) is found to have contributed to the accident or injury in any way, no matter how small, they are completely barred from recovering any damages from the defendant (the allegedly negligent party). This “all-or-nothing” approach was criticized for being too harsh and unfair.

In contrast, the comparative negligence doctrine allows the plaintiff to seek compensation even if they were partially at fault, but their damages will be reduced in proportion to their share of negligence. For example, if the plaintiff is deemed 30% responsible, they can still recover 70% of the awarded damages.

Most states have abandoned the strict contributory negligence rule in favor of the more equitable comparative negligence approach, which aims to allocate liability more fairly based on each party’s level of fault.

How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Case

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and are pursuing a personal injury claim, the doctrine of comparative negligence could significantly impact the outcome of your case and the amount of compensation you may receive.

At Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah, our experienced attorneys understand that in many accident scenarios, both parties may share some level of fault. Under the comparative negligence rule followed in most states, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault in causing the incident.

For example, if you are deemed 20% responsible for the accident, and the other party is 80% at fault, you may only be eligible to recover 80% of the total damages awarded. Conversely, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault (depending on the state’s laws), you may not recover any compensation.

Our legal team will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, gather evidence to establish the other party’s negligence, and work to minimize any potential allegations of comparative negligence against you. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.

Contact Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah for Legal Help Today

If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault and resulted in damages and/or injuries, seeking legal representation from a skilled personal injury attorney is crucial. The experienced lawyers at Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah have a proven track record of success in handling complex injury cases involving comparative negligence.

Our team will fight tirelessly to maximize the compensation you rightfully deserve. Do not let comparative negligence diminish the value of your claim – contact Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah today at 617-222-2222 for a free consultation, and let us protect your rights.

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