In the United States, most states determine how an injured driver will be compensated based on comparative or contributory negligence. There are some consistencies across the board, but different states may have slightly different takes on this concept.
This post will analyze how this concept works for drivers and what they mean for auto accident compensation. We’ll also discuss how an auto accident attorney can support you in the claims process.
Forms of negligence
One of the first questions people ask after an accident is who was at fault? Let’s understand the concepts of comparative and contributory negligence to better answer this question.
In the case of comparative negligence, the plaintiff (the party who initiates a lawsuit) can be held partially responsible for their own injuries and may have to share the blame with the defendant (the party being sued). In such a scenario, the plaintiff will be able to claim compensation depending on the percentage of the damages caused.
In the case of contributory negligence, if the plaintiff is proven to be negligent and having contributed to the injury of the defendant’s contribution (even 1 percent!), he may not be able to claim the damages.
How much compensation do drivers receive?
Seeking compensation in the aftermath of an auto accident can vary from state to state, especially as negligence laws — contributory negligence and comparative negligence — vary greatly across the country. Let’s see how these laws help allocate fault between parties and determine compensation in an injury claim.
Comparative negligence laws
In states following comparative negligence laws, the amount awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is reduced by the degree of fault they had in the accident. For instance, the jury apportions $100,000 in damages to you in case of an auto accident and considers you 40 percent at fault. In such a scenario, you’d be able to claim only $60,000 from the defendant. It’s also important to be familiar with different types of comparative negligence laws followed across the states:
Pure comparative negligence laws
States following such laws allow you to seek compensation regardless of your fault in the accident. Your recovery is reduced based on the percentage of your fault in the accident. For instance, if you’re 40 percent responsible for the accident, you can recover compensation for 60 percent of the damages. States like Washington, New Mexico, and Kentucky are pure comparative negligence states.
Modified comparative negligence laws
States following such laws allow you to seek compensation only if your percentage of fault is under a set threshold. Most of the states cap it at 50 percent — you’re only able to recover compensation if your involvement in the accident is less than 50 percent. States like Nebraska, Texas, and Indiana are modified comparative negligence states.
Contributory negligence laws
In states following contributory negligence laws, the plaintiff will be legally prohibited from recovering damage compensation if they have contributed to the accident in any way (even if 1 percent!). These restrictions have often been criticized on grounds of being unfair. Only four states — Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland — follow the contributory negligence law.
Why hire an auto accident attorney
Experiencing an auto accident and navigating the process of a damage claim is often overwhelming. While you file for an auto accident injury claim at your insurance company, you may not be able to gauge your fault percentage correctly and may end up receiving less than what your injury truly deserves.
Moreover, injury laws vary across the states, making the entire claims process even more complicated. Here’s how an expert legal representation who’s well versed in the state negligence laws can help you:
- evaluate facts and determine your accurate fault percentage;
- help you negotiate with the insurance company;
- deal with the defenses and present true facts in case of a court case;
- clear doubts about the auto-accident claims process in your state;
- devise ways to maximize the compensation you deserve.
If you’re on the lookout for an “auto accident attorney near me,” get in touch with LegalASAP today. We can connect you with our network of experienced car accident injury lawyers who can review your case. They can advise you on the best plan for your claim. You can also take our free evaluation to see if you may qualify.