Understanding Contributory Fault and Comparative Negligence

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Determining who is at fault in an injury claim can affect a case’s outcome dramatically. Unfortunately, many cases don’t have an exact answer when more than one person caused the damage. If the defendant and plaintiff both contributed to the accident, the judge or jury must allocate the portion of negligence each contributed to the incident.

Understanding the differences between contributory fault and comparative negligence is necessary when involved in a car accident where multiple parties are at fault. It also essential to find out as quickly as possible which method is used by the state your accident occurred so you can prepare your claim appropriately. The state of Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard, which means your injury award will be reduced by the percentage the court finds you were negligent.

What Does Fault Mean?

When defining “fault” in the context of a personal injury clean, it means someone is responsible for causing harm and must compensate those who were injured or suffered losses due to this cause. Many times, another’s carelessness and negligence are the main factors in an injury claim.

Examples of personal injury harm caused by this type of improper care by another individual include:

If and when a personal injury case goes to court, the compensation awarded for a plaintiff’s loss will be affected by who was at fault. In cases where there is shared fault in causing the accident, the method used to calculate appropriate damage awards will also rest on the state’s laws.

Every state follows one of the two legal fault rules, though they might have a modified version. These two rules are comparative negligence or contributory negligence, and their awards systems are very different. Florida uses a comparative negligence method which reduces the amount of an injury award by the percentage a plaintiff is found to be negligent in the incident.  It’s important to have an experienced attorney to help represent your best interests in any of these situations.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence dictates that if someone contributes to their own injury, then no one else can be held responsible for it. If someone is injured, and the victim himself was partially responsible, he would not receive compensation for his losses, regardless of how many thousands of dollars he sustained in damages. In a pure negligent system, the other party must be 100% liable to collect damages from them. This hardline approach to assigning fault has resulted in many states taking on a comparative negligence approach instead, but there are still several states who use it. Thankfully Florida does not follow this rule.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence assigns fault by comparing the amount each person contributed to the injury and issues award damages accordingly. There are two approaches to this method:

Pure comparative negligence – A court will total the plaintiff’s damages and then reduce them according to the percentage they contributed to their loss. For example, a plaintiff is awarded $50,000 but was determined 30% at fault. Their award would be reduced to $35,000.

Modified Comparative Negligence – This is a more practiced approach in cases across the United States. If a plaintiff is found to be more than 50% responsible for their damages, they will not recover any costs. Some states set the threshold at 51%, and if someone’s portion of fault doesn’t exceed the limit, they can still expect a reduced damage award.

Both of these methods can help a defendant attempt to reduce the amount of fault they are liable for in a personal injury case. This is why it is crucial to hire a reputable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after sustaining an injury.

Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyer in Orlando

If your injuries from an accident need compensation, but you are worried about potentially being at fault, seek out a personal injury attorney in Orlando as soon as possible. A lawyer with significant experience practicing personal injury law will be able to explain to you how comparative fault could affect your personal injury claim.

The Umansky Law Firm understands the complexities of personal injury law and has over 100 years of combined experience to help you achieve a desirable outcome. Our highly-rated personal injury lawyers are committed to obtaining the maximum compensation we can to help you cover all accident-related costs. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at (407) 228-3838.