When you’re involved in a car accident, you can expect the other party to try to decrease your compensation by claiming you share some of the blame. This is known as comparative negligence.
Unlike pure comparative fault, which bars an injured party from recovering damages if they are 50% or more at fault, modified comparative-negligence allows damaged parties to recover their losses minus their level of responsibility.
The laws of negligence vary significantly from state to state, and these differences can affect how much you can recover from your accident. The following infographic from a visual data firm shows a breakdown of the various states’ negligence laws and how they impact your ability to collect compensation. Hover over each state to see the different negligence laws they follow. Traditionally, many states used what is known as the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars plaintiffs from collecting damages if they are even 1% at fault for an accident. This type of law has led to harsh results, and most jurisdictions have moved away from it.
Today, some states use the doctrine of contributory negligence, while most other states follow a form of comparative-negligence. The two most common forms of comparative-negligence are pure and modified comparative fault. It is unique because it uses a hybrid of the two called slight/gross comparative-negligence.
Pure Comparative Negligence
When multiple defendants are involved in a case, it becomes difficult to determine who is to blame for causing the accident. Pure comparative negligence in Pennsylvania rules attempts to resolve these issues by allowing plaintiffs to recover damages minus their percentage of fault.
For example, if the jury finds that the plaintiff was 40% at fault for causing the accident and the defendant was 30% at fault, the plaintiff would recover from each defendant.
Unlike most jurisdictions that follow modified comparative negligence rules, this system is still utilized in thirteen states. These rules have helped injured victims to receive the monetary compensation they need after their accidents. However, it has not prevented injured parties from pursuing their claims against negligent defendants. In comparison, a jury finding that the plaintiff was 50% at fault for causing the accident would only be able to recover. This is why it is important to consult experienced attorneys about comparative negligence rules.
Modified Comparative Negligence
In states that follow modified comparative negligence rules, the jury will review all evidence and assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in an accident. This percentage of fault will then be used to determine how much an injured party can recover for their losses.
Pure comparative negligence law allows you to file a claim even if you’re found to be 99% responsible for an accident. Still, it reduces your total settlement amount by that same percentage. This is the standard comparative negligence law followed.
In modified comparative negligence states, you can still claim for physical injury, property damage, and wrongful death if your share of the fault is below 50%. If it is above that threshold, you are barred from recovery.
A state’s comparative negligence rules dictate how the parties involved in an accident will apportion responsibility and compensation for damages. It is essential to know the laws of your state so you can make the best choice for your car accident claim.
Most states follow comparative negligence, but each has rules for applying this law in personal injury cases. For example, some states follow pure comparative negligence, which allows all parties to recover damages minus their degree of fault in the incident. Other states follow modified comparative negligence, which bars plaintiffs from claiming if they are found to be more than a certain percentage at fault for the incident.
Still, others use the contributory negligence rule, which prevents victims from recovering if they are found to be even one percent at fault for an incident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your state’s rules.
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