What is Comparative Negligence?

After every accident, the big question asked is, “Who is at fault?” In the world of personal injury law, comparative negligence is extremely important and a highly talked about concept. The plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer has the responsibility to prove the defendant negligent and that their actions (or lack of) impacted the plaintiff claimed damages directly.

How to Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

When it comes to proving negligence, a lawyer will go through various aspects of negligence in the plaintiff’s case. Due to fraud, a lawyer must go through these topics thoroughly and diligently to come to the best conclusion.

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Under the circumstances of the event, the defendant owes a legal duty to the plaintiff. This can mean many things. For example, business owners have a duty to ensure that their premises are safe for the public and all customers involved. They must obey safety laws and maintain a safe environment.

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This is when the defendant breaches the legal duty by acting or fails to act in a certain way that goes against the law. An example of breach could be during a motor collision. Whether you are on a motorcycle, bus or car running red lights, failing to yield for pedestrians, or even running a stop sign that led to a collision.

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When the defendants’ actions led to the plaintiff injuries is known as causation. Causation can also be due to the inaction of the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s attorney will have to prove that the damages caused by the defendant were due to his/her negligence.

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At the end of the day, the plaintiff only has a case on their hands if they suffered injuries. Taking a financial hit due to someone else’s negligence is also grounds for damages in a personal injury claim. Medical bills, loss time at work and even emotional damages can be considered damage as long as they are measurable.

The Different Comparative Negligence Rules

In the United States, different states have different rules and differs from state to state. From state to state, they have adopted two different forms of rules with the exception of a few states that have their own unique set of parameters. The two methods of comparative negligence described below have been used in some shape or form.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In this form of negligence, the victims are entitled to some form of compensation for their damages no matter what the scenario or degree of negligence in their own actions. This method ensures that the victim gets some help even if their level of fault surpasses the defendants. States that practice this include California, Florida and New York to name a few.

Modified Comparative Negligence

States that practice modified comparative negligence are Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Michigan. This scenario plays out similar to pure negligence mentioned above, with a small difference. In this case, the compensation for the accident victim may be limited if fault exceeds the defendant. The plaintiff may only recover compensation for injuries and damages if fault is less than the defendant.

How to Protect Your Rights to Compensation

Those who suffer damages due to someone else’s negligence are entitled to compensation in a comparative negligence state. Protecting your right to compensation is best done with the help of a legal professional. An example is when the jury accesses both parties level of fault in a personal injury case. As long as the victims level of negligence does not surpass the defendant, the plaintiff can still recover compensation minus a fault percentage.

The jury takes the time to access both the plaintiff and the defendants claims to determine the percentage of fault between the two parties. A quick explanation, in a personal injury lawsuit for $80,000 where the victim is 20% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff would then lose $16,000 from the total case award.

For the best results, call the Law Office of Kovacich Snipes, P.C. or a local, reputable lawyer for a consultation to see if you have a case on your hands. The sooner you act, the stronger your case can be, which in turn will reduce the amount of negligence taken in the personal injury claim.


Lucas Todesco is a writer from San Diego, CA, who helps various law firms with their public relations. You can connect with him on Linkedin @lucas-todesco.