The Difference Between Contributory Negligence & Comparative Negligence In Personal Injury Claims

The key to nearly every personal injury claim is the answer to the question of who was at fault, typically due to negligence.

Negligence is defined as an action or behavior that creates the risk of harm or injury to another person, and in most instances, there are several elements to proving a negligence claim, including:

  • Defendant had a duty to provide reasonable care for another person’s safety
  • Defendant breached that duty through some act (impaired driving, for example)
  • Defendant’s breach of duty of care caused injury to another person
  • Defendant knew or should have known the breach would cause injury or harm
  • Claimant suffered injuries directly resulting from this breach

But negligence isn’t as simple as proving the defendant breached his or her duty of care, because if the defense can prove that the claimant contributed in any way to the accident, it can significantly affect a judgment.

What Is Contributory Negligence In Personal Injury Claims? 

Contributory negligence refers to any action or behavior that a plaintiff took that partially or wholly caused an injury accident.

Personal Injury LawyersSo if Driver X (claimant) took a left turn on a red light and was hit by Driver Y (defendant) while making that turn, Driver Y’s lawyers could argue that Driver X was guilty of contributory negligence in the accident because of the left turn on the red light.

In that case, a judge or jury could find that Driver X contributed wholly to the accident, which could result in Driver Y winning a contributory negligence counterclaim against Driver X.

In some states, proving contributory negligence on the part of the claimant can prevent that claimant from recovering any damages in the personal injury claim. 

What Is Comparative Negligence In Personal Injury Claims? 

Many states now use comparative negligence as a standard in judging who is at fault. Unlike contributory negligence, comparative negligence weighs the negligence of both claimants and defendants, and awards damages based on the percentage to which both sides are at fault.

For example, if a judge or jury found that the claimant was 30 percent responsible for an accident, the claimant would only receive 70 percent of the damages. In some states, however, a claimant who is found to be 50 percent or more at fault will not receive any damages.

The Key To Winning Your Claim Is An Experience Personal Injury Attorney 

There is rarely a personal injury claim that doesn’t have challenges, because when another person is at fault for an accident or event that hurt you, that person’s insurance company will typically do anything it can to avoid compensating you for your pain and suffering. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if the other side tries to prove that you somehow contributed to the accident, so that they can escape full liability. The lawyers at Hilton &Somer, LLC, have tried many personal injury claims, and we have a track record of success.

Our job is to take care of all the legal work so that you can heal and recover with peace of mind. Please call us today at 703-560-0700 for a free legal consultation.

Additional Reading

Understanding Washington D.C. Personal Injury Claims

3 Reasons You May Need a Personal Injury Lawyer