How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

February 15, 2024

Personal injury cases are rarely black and white. In many instances, more than one party may share responsibility for an accident or injury. 

Understanding the concept of comparative negligence is crucial for anyone embarking on a personal injury claim. 

So how does comparative negligence affect your personal injury claim? Let us find out. 

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that addresses cases where multiple parties share fault for an accident or injury.

Unlike contributory negligence, which bars the plaintiff from recovering any damages if they are found even slightly at fault, comparative negligence allows for a more nuanced approach. In jurisdictions that follow comparative negligence principles, each party’s degree of fault is assessed, and damages are apportioned accordingly.

How Comparative Negligence Works

In a comparative negligence system, the court examines the actions of all parties involved and assigns a percentage of fault to each. The damages awarded to the plaintiff are then reduced by their percentage of contributory negligence. There are two main types of comparative negligence:

Pure Comparative Negligence

In states that follow pure comparative negligence, the injured party can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault. The awarded compensation is simply reduced by the percentage of their own negligence. For example, if a plaintiff is deemed 20% responsible for an accident and the damages are $100,000, they would receive $80,000.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Some states have adopted modified comparative negligence rules. In these jurisdictions, the injured party can only recover damages if their fault falls below a certain threshold, often 50%. If the plaintiff is found to be equally or more at fault than the defendant, they are barred from seeking compensation.

The Impact On Personal Injury Cases

Understanding comparative negligence is paramount for both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases. Here is how it can affect different aspects of a case:

Determining Damages: The most direct impact is on the amount of damages awarded. The court considers each party’s degree of fault and adjusts the compensation accordingly. This can lead to a more equitable distribution of responsibility for the consequences of the accident.

Settlement Negotiations: Knowing the principles of comparative negligence can significantly influence settlement negotiations. Parties may be more inclined to negotiate a fair settlement when they understand the potential impact of a court ruling on their respective degrees of fault.

Legal Strategy: Attorneys on both sides must carefully assess and present evidence of negligence. Establishing a strong case or defense regarding the percentage of fault can be a pivotal factor in the final outcome.

Jury Considerations: In cases that go to trial, juries are tasked with determining the degree of negligence for each party. Effective communication of evidence and arguments regarding comparative negligence is essential for a favorable verdict.

Learn How Comparative Negligence Can Apply To Your Case

Navigating the complexities of personal injury cases requires a comprehensive understanding of comparative negligence. Whether you find yourself pursuing a claim or defending against one, recognizing how fault is apportioned can profoundly impact the outcome. 

Seeking legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney in Philadelphia is crucial to ensure that your rights are protected and that you have a clear strategy tailored to the specific nuances of your case. By grasping the principles of comparative negligence, you empower yourself to make informed decisions and navigate the legal landscape more effectively.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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