Comparative Negligence: What It Means for Your Car Accident Case

Comparative negligence is a rule of tort law that is applicable to casualty insurance in different states. According to the comparative negligence rule, the fault for causing an accident is measured by the contribution of each party in causing the accident. 

This makes it easier for insurers to assign the blame correctly and provide compensation accordingly. If you are dealing with a similar scenario in Austin, talking to a personal injury lawyer in Austin should be your next step since you don’t want to lose your claim because of the bad timing and legal resources. 

Let us understand it in a more detailed way. 

What is Comparative Negligence?

Law enforcement agencies use comparative negligence for assistance in car accident cases. The comparative negligence rule is helpful in determining fault in car accident cases. Suppose that both drivers break the same traffic law, which leads to a car accident. 

This will not let them have any compensation, and that is why comparative negligence divides the blame according to the percentage of their faults. This way, both drivers can receive some portion of coverage for their loss. 

If a car accident involves two parties, insurance companies will use comparative negligence to see the percentage of each party’s fault. Determining fault is very important, and lawyers will try their best to lower the percentage of their client’s responsibility in an accident. 

Also, remember that insurance companies will try their best to reduce the amount of compensation. So, hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you is essential if you wish to receive compensation. 

Defense attorneys are experts in lowering the percentage of liability/fault of their clients, so it is recommended that you deal with them accordingly. Connecting with a legal team is the best option in cases like these. The party that is less guilty of causing the accident is still at fault to some degree. They will have a percentage of blame assigned to them. 

What Are the Types of Comparative Negligence?

There are three main types of comparative negligence rule. They are followed in different areas in the US. These rules work around the percentage of fault assigned to drivers involved in a car crash. The following are the types of comparative negligence:

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence
  2. Modified Comparative Negligence
  3. Gross Negligence

Let us look into their details:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence

This rule is in favor of the plaintiff. The pure comparative negligence rule allows victims or plaintiffs to recover their losses and damages caused by an accident or car crash. If you have recently experienced a car accident and were declared 99% at fault for causing that accident, you can still apply for the recovery.

According to this rule, a plaintiff who is 99% at fault will still be able to recover his damages. The 99% fault will leave him with a 1% deserved recovery since it depicts the 1% fault of the other party. This makes a plaintiff eligible to recover 1% of his damages caused by the other party. 

  • Modified Comparative Negligence

This type of comparative negligence rule does not allow the plaintiff to recover damages if they are found guilty up to a certain percentage for causing the accident. If a party involved in a car accident is assigned a fault beyond a specific percentage, they cannot recover even 1% of their damages. 

For instance, If a party is found 50% or more than 50% at fault in causing a car accident, they will not be eligible to file a claim for the damages they received. This is known as the 50% bar rule, which applies in several US states. 

Almost twenty-three states follow this rule. At the same time, there is a 51% bar rule followed by states like Illinois and Oregon. A 51% bar rule indicates that a plaintiff/victim cannot file a recovery claim if assigned 51% or more fault for causing an accident. 

This way, plaintiffs will not receive any recovery according to these rules. 

  • Gross Negligence

The gross negligence rule replaces the fault percentages with a gross or slight contribution to the crash. An accident award is higher if the claimant’s contribution to the accident is minor and the defendant’s fault is high. 

In this case, gross refers to a negligent and conscious disregard for the injured party’s safety. In contrast, a plaintiff’s injury judgment is reduced if the damage caused by an accident is greater than “slight.” 

For example, if a car that ran a red light injures a jaywalker, the jaywalker will be paid less compensation than if they were passing a green light. A plaintiff is banned from claiming damages under this rule even if they slightly contributed to an accident.

The pure contributory negligence rule is followed by four states, including Maryland and Alabama, and one jurisdiction, Washington, D.C.

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