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Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence: What is the difference in a personal injury case?

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Sometimes individuals get injured at no fault of their own. Instead, they are injured as a direct result of another party’s negligent actions. Essentially, negligence refers to a situation in which a party fails to express proper or reasonable care which causes injury to another party. However, in some cases, negligent parties are not 100% to blame for an injury and instead are only partially to blame. A victim may have contributed to the cause of the incident that caused their injuries. Depending on the state a victim resides in, if a victim’s actions contribute in any capacity to the cause of their damages, it could affect their ability to recover financial compensation. In the unfortunate event that you have been injured and are partially at fault for the cause of your damages, contact a knowledgeable Westchester County Personal Injury Attorney who can help you understand your legal options. In addition, please continue reading to learn about the differences between comparative negligence and contributory negligence in personal injury cases. 

What is the difference between comparative negligence and contributory negligence?

In the U.S. states either use the comparative negligence or the contributory negligence doctrines which govern whether a victim can recover monetary compensation for their damages if they were partly responsible for the accident that caused their injuries in a personal injury case.

Comparative negligence

Under the comparative negligence doctrine, victims who are injured as a result of another party’s negligent actions and are partially to blame for the accident that caused their injuries can still recover monetary compensation for their losses. The amount of their award is reduced, however, based on their percentage of fault. For instance, if a victim is found to be 50% responsible, their award will be reduced by 50%. In most states, the courts follow the rule of comparative negligence. New York is one of those states that use the comparative negligence doctrine.

Contributory negligence

Under the contributory negligence doctrine, victims who are injured as a result of another party’s negligence and are partly responsible for the accident that caused their injuries cannot recover monetary compensation for their losses. For instance, if another party is found 99% responsible and a victim is even found just 1% at fault for the accident that caused their injuries, they will not be awarded monetary compensation for their losses. There are only a few states including Maryland that follow the contributory negligence rule.

Ultimately, the main difference between comparative negligence and contributory negligence is that the comparative negligence doctrine allows victims to recover damages even if they are partly responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. However, the contributory negligence doctrine bars victims from recovering financial compensation if they are found to have contributed in any capacity to the accident that caused their injuries.

If you or someone you love has been injured due to another party’s negligence in New York, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced and determined attorneys who can help you recover monetary compensation for your losses. Allow our firm to represent your interests in court today.