Comparative Versus Contributory Negligence

Everyday people suffer injuries in accidents. If you were recently in an accident, you may catch yourself trying to pin fault to someone. Who is at fault for the accident? Who is responsible for your injuries? This question is not always cut and dry. Sometimes, there may be more than one at-fault party or you may have contributed to your injuries.

In these cases, contributory or comparative negligence may come into play. Here is what you need to know about these two legal concepts.

What Is Negligence?

When it comes to personal injury, you will hear the word negligence a lot. Negligence is conduct that creates a risk of harm. If you are negligent, it means that you owed a duty to another person and you breached that duty. Also, the negligence has to be directly responsible for the injuries. You cannot sue someone for negligence if the negligence did not cause your injuries. Likewise, to find a person negligent, that person has to have caused significant injuries. If a person is careless and almost caused an injury but didn’t hurt anyone, then you cannot file a personal injury claim.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence refers to conduct where you created an unreasonable risk to yourself. For instance, if you do not look before you are crossing traffic and the vehicle hits you, you may have put yourself at risk and hence may be partially at fault for the injuries and accident. In some states, you may be unable to ask for damages. In other states, you may have to deal with a reduced settlement due to your contribution to the accident.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a part of contributory negligence. In comparative negligence, you would weigh your fault against the other party’s fault. If you contributed to the accident that caused your injuries, then you can still sue for damages. The court would subtract your percentage of negligence from the total cost of the settlement. In most cases, the other person would have to be at least half at fault.

When it comes to fault, it isn’t always easy to determine who is at fault or how much you are entitled to. Sometimes, you may also be at fault for your injuries and will have to take that into account with your claim. If you are unsure about your percentage of fault, set up a consultation with Elizabeth, NJ personal injury lawyers, such as from Rispoli & Borneo, P.C., to discuss your case.