What is Contributory Negligence?
When something unfortunate occurs, like a motor vehicle accident, the first thing that the majority of people want to know is who is to blame.
A similar approach is taken by the law, which inquires as to whether or not the accident could have been avoided if someone had been more careful. In most cases, the “negligent” party is the one that is required to pay for all that happened because of their lack of care.
Acting in a way that puts the safety of others in jeopardy is what the law refers to as negligent behavior.
But what if there was negligence from both parties? It is possible that the victim contributed to the accident, which is referred to as contributory negligence, and this will have an effect on the amount of money that the victim can collect, if any at all.
Example of Contributory Negligence
Imagine a situation in which a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle as they are crossing the street. If they were at a crosswalk, and the driver of the car broke the law or wasn’t paying attention, then it is clear that the motorist is the one who was negligent; the case is pretty simple.
Now consider the reverse scenario: the pedestrian dashed across the street at a point in the intersection where there is no crosswalk at all. Who exactly is at fault here?
It is possible that the motorist was careless, especially if they were driving too fast or weren’t paying attention to the road. If the pedestrian had glanced in both directions before crossing the street, it is highly unlikely that they would have been struck by a vehicle. It is likely that the driver, or the vehicle’s insurance company, will argue that the pedestrian’s activities were a contributing factor in the accident. A claim of contributory negligence is being made here.
If there was contributory negligence, does it affect the outcome of my case?
Yes, it definitely could.
Historically speaking, because the victim’s injury was essentially seen as being their own fault, contributory negligence meant that they gained nothing at all; they were fully prevented from claiming damages because their injury was considered as being their own fault.
In the area of law, people now see things differently. It is not right to prevent victims from collecting money simply on the basis that they shared some of the blame for the incident, especially when the other party was negligent in their behavior. Because of this, the majority of states have adopted a legal doctrine that is referred to as “comparative” negligence.
Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the court will consider how reckless both parties were and will decide whether or not the victim can recover some of their costs based on the degree to which they were to blame for the incident. For instance, in the case of the pedestrian who was struck by a car that was passing by, the court might decide that the driver was 60% responsible for the accident while the pedestrian was 40% responsible. After then, the pedestrian might be able to get sixty percent of their expenses reimbursed from the driver’s insurance company.
In a lawsuit involving personal injury, allegations of contributory negligence are never a good sign; but regarding the rules of comparative negligence, it’s not the end of your case. It is in your best interest to discuss your personal injury claim with an attorney at all times, even if you believe you are partially responsible for the accident.
Contact The Brown Firm for a Free Consultation
Regardless of whether or not you believe you were partially at fault for your accident, it’s crucial to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Your attorney will be able to help determine whether or not the other party is fully to blame for the accident. Filing a claim for compensation when you’re partially to blame can be very complex. You want to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of by the other party’s insurance company. With the help of a lawyer, you’ll be able to receive the benefits that you deserve for your losses.
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