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Across the United States, the majority of states utilize a comparative negligence system when it comes to determining fault for motor vehicle collisions or other injuries. This type of system allows people who are partially at fault to still recover something for their damages even though they are partially to blame. Other states allow contributory negligence to be used as a defense to negligence claims, which often seriously impairs injured people’s ability to be compensated. According to our friends at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law, a personal injury lawyer can tell you more about your particular situation and the different laws on negligence.
How does contributory negligence work?
Whenever someone is injured due to another’s negligence or carelessness, that person can bring a claim to recover compensation for their injuries. Sometimes, there is only one party responsible and determining liability for the injuries is fairly routine. However, there is often more than one cause of a person’s injuries, and sometimes the injured party will be partially blamed for their own injuries. In states that utilize contributory negligence, an injured party must be 100% completely free from any fault to recover for their injuries. In other words, if an injured person is deemed to be 1% responsible for their accident, they would be prevented from recovering any compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other damages.
Most states have changed from the older, harsher contributory negligence rules to a comparative negligence system, which allows people who are partially at fault to recover for their injuries as long as they are not more than 50% or 51% at fault. However, the compensation they recover will be reduced by whatever percentage they are deemed to be at fault. This system allows for injured parties to recover more easily, albeit reduced damages, and is fairer to injured victims.
What does this mean for my injury claim?
If you are in a state that utilizes contributory negligence, it will often be harder for you to recover unless the facts show that you did absolutely nothing to contribute to your injuries. Realistically, insurance companies utilize contributory negligence as a defense in most intersection or right-of-way car accidents, nearly all slip and fall cases, and a variety of other common injury claims. It is much more likely that the insurance company will outright deny your claim if your state allows contributory negligence as a defense. As such, it is very important to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after you are hurt to allow your lawyer to examine the facts and fight back against any allegations of shared fault before they may be raised.
If you have been hurt and want to know whether contributory negligence will affect your case, give a personal injury lawyer a call!