Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence

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Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence

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One of the first things that people often ask after an accident is, “Who is at fault?” Understanding the legal concepts behind fault are important, especially when it comes to comparative and contributory negligence. How the law sees these two types of negligence can impact your case, and it is not always immediately clear who is at fault.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is the term used to describe conduct that creates an unnecessary risk to other people. If you are the negligent party and your actions caused harm to another person, then you will be responsible for paying for his or her injuries. To prove another person’s negligence you and your attorney will have to prove the following things:

  • The negligent party had a duty toward the other party.
  • The negligent party failed to act in an appropriate way (they breached their duty).
  • The negligent party’s breach was the reason for the injuries to the other party.
  • The negligent party should have known that their breach could result in injury to another person.
  • The injured person suffered actual injuries that resulted in damages.

Comparative Negligence

Georgia is a comparative negligence state. That means that each party involved in the accident could be held partially responsible for the accident. Traditionally courts viewed contributory negligence as a total bar when it comes to recovery of damages. That meant that if the injured person contributed in any manner to the accident, they could not receive compensation for their injuries. However, there are now two types of comparative negligence:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence: This is when the damages of the plaintiff are added together and then reduced based on the percentage that they were deemed negligent. For example, if the plaintiff was awarded $100,000 and found to be 10% at fault for the accident, then he or she would only receive $90,000 in compensation.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence: This is when the plaintiff does not recover damages if he or she is found to be at least 50% or more at fault for the accident.

Contributory Negligence

This type of negligence is used to characterize any conduct that would create an unnecessary risk to one’s self. This concept is meant to show that an individual has a duty to act as any other reasonable person would. When the individual does not act in this manner and someone is injured, he or she may be held liable for the injuries, even if another person was involved in the accident.

After a personal injury claim is filed, it is common for the defendant to file a contributory negligence counterclaim. If the defendant is able to prove this, the plaintiff may be barred from recovering damages or the amount of the settlement could be reduced.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you have suffered injuries due to another person’s negligence, it is important that you have experienced legal representation. The attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, A Personal Injury Firm, will work to get you the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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