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Comparative Negligence and Contributory Negligence

Unfortunately, many people are injured in a diverse array of accidents every single day. Victims of accidents are entitled to receive full and fair compensation from the responsible party. In the United States, a legal doctrine known as negligence is used to determine which parties are responsible for an accident and the resulting injuries. Simply stated, negligence is the failure to take the proper care that a reasonably prudent person would have taken in a similar situation. Applying this broad legal doctrine to actual real world injury cases often gets complicated. This is especially true when the injured party played a partial, but not entire, role in causing their own accident. If you have been injured in an accident, and you think you might be partially at fault, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately.


Understanding Comparative Negligence


Different U.S. states have adopted different systems for determining fault and apportioning liability in cases where the victim is partially at fault for their own injury. The majority of states operate under a system known as comparative negligence. The comparative negligence system has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. Comparative negligence attempts to put a percentage figure on each party’s blame for the accident, and then divides up liability based directly on that percentage. For example, imagine that you were involved in a car accident with two other vehicles. In this accident, you sustained $10,000 worth of damages. Under a comparative negligence system, determining how that $10,000 in damages would be compensated would come down to the percentage of fault of each party. So, if both the other cars were 40 percent at fault for the accident, and you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, those figures would be used to determine your award. Each other driver would owe you $4000 in damages, while the other $2000 would be your responsibility. It is easy to see how much the percentage of fault matters in comparative negligence cases. Each percentage point can be worth a substantial amount of money in many injury cases. This makes the services of an experienced personal injury attorney, who fully understands comparative negligence, incredibly valuable.


Understanding Contributory Negligence


While comparative negligence has become increasingly popular, some states still operate under an older system known as contributory negligence. The idea behind contributory negligence is very straightforward, every person has an obligation to look out for their own safety and avoid creating unreasonable risk for themselves. If a person is partially at fault for their accident, then they failed to live up to that obligation. This means that in a contributory negligence state, anyone who was in any way responsible for their own accident is completely barred from recovering any damages. Go back to the previous example; in a pure contributory negligence state, that driver who was only 20 percent at fault for the accident is not allowed to collect any damages. In fact, in that example, none of the drivers would be entitled to any damages, because each one contributed to causing the accident.


Contact An Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer


In any situation where an accident occurs and two, or more, parties might be at fault, a lot is at stake. If you are potentially at fault for your own accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your legal rights and make sure that you are not receiving an unfair percentage of the blame. Perhaps you are not even at fault at all. Your legal rights must be protected. All injury victims are entitled to full and fair compensation under their state’s specific laws and a personal injury lawyer in Chicago can help make that happen.

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