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How Comparative and Contributory Negligence Differ

  • When you get into an accident, it’s important to understand the negligence laws in your state. Negligence laws help determine how much money you receive if you take legal action against the liable party who caused your injuries. If you shared fault in your accident, these laws also determine whether you’re entitled to compensation and how much of that compensation you’ll receive.

    All 50 states employ either comparative or contributory negligence laws. At The Kindley Firm, APC, our team is familiar with California’s negligence law and we can use the law to maximize your settlement in court. Even if you were partially at fault for causing your accident, you can hold the other liable parties accountable and recover compensation for your losses.

    Pure Comparative Negligence

    California adheres to pure comparative negligence law. In states exercising pure comparative negligence, all liable parties in an accident can sue for damages regardless of what percentage of fault they contributed. Once the court calculates your percentage of fault and deducts this percentage from your overall claim value.

    Knowing your percentage of vault and the value of your damages is crucial before choosing to pursue a claim because you’ll want to make sure filing a claim is worth it. For example, if your percentage of fault was 80 percent and your damages are valued at $5,000, you’ll only receive $1,000 after the court deducts your percentage of fault. You may decide this claim isn’t worth pursuing. 

    Modified Comparative Negligence

    In states with modified comparative negligence laws, liable parties can sue for damages if they’re less than 51 or 50 percent liable for the accident. Some states limit recovery of damages at 50 percent fault and some limit recovery of damages at 51 percent fault. If you’re below the threshold of fault, however, your claim will work similarly to a pure comparative fault situation. 

    The court will calculate your percentage of fault and then deduct this percentage from your overall claim value. 

    Contributory Negligence 

    There are few states in the country that have contributory negligence laws. In these states, the court bans liable parties from recovering compensation for their damages even if they’re 1 percent at fault for causing the accident. A victim can only file a lawsuit and recover compensation if they’ve contributed zero fault in an accident. Most states don’t use this law because it’s considered unfair to victims.  

    Contact a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney

    If you live in California, you’re lucky to have one of the most lenient negligence laws in the country. It’s important, however, to discuss the details of your accident with your attorney before moving forward with your case so you can assess the value of your claim and calculate your percentage of fault.

    If you’re ready to speak with a San Diego personal injury lawyer from The Kindley Firm, APC, call 619-550-1313 to schedule a free consultation or visit our website for more information.