Personal Injury Law

Comparative Fault In Personal Injury Law


In the complex world of personal injury law, ‘Comparative Fault’ is a legal doctrine that plays a crucial role in determining compensation. This article will break down this concept into easy-to-understand terms.

What is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault, also known as comparative negligence, is a principle used to determine responsibility and damages based on the negligence of every party directly involved in an accident. Simply put, it’s used to figure out who was at fault for an accident and to what degree.

Types of Comparative Fault

Pure Comparative Negligence: Under this rule, a plaintiff can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault. Their recovery would be reduced by their degree of fault. For example, if a plaintiff suffers $100,000 in damages but was 60% at fault, they could still recover $40,000 (40% of the damages).

Modified Comparative Negligence: This rule limits the ability of a plaintiff to recover damages if they are found to be either equally at fault (50/50 rule) or more at fault (51/49 rule) than the other party. The specific rule varies by state.

How does Comparative Fault work?

Let’s consider an example: Suppose you’re involved in a car accident where the other driver ran a red light, but you were speeding. In this case, both parties share some fault.

The court might decide that the total damages from the accident amount to $10,000. They could also determine that you were 20% at fault for speeding while the other driver was 80% at fault for running the red light.

Under the doctrine of comparative fault, you’d be eligible to recover 80% of your damages, or $8,000, because the other driver was primarily at fault.

Comparative Fault vs. Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault should not be confused with contributory negligence, a stricter doctrine that states if a plaintiff is even 1% at fault for their injury, they cannot collect any damages. Only a few jurisdictions still use this rule.

Understanding comparative fault is vital if you’re involved in a personal injury law suit. It directly impacts the amount of compensation you could receive. Always consult with a professional Anniston divorce lawyer to navigate these legal waters, as laws can vary greatly from state to state.

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