Contributory Fault

Not all accidents are cut and dry, with one ‘good guy’ and one ‘bad guy.’ Contributory fault is a way of apportioning damages when more than one party is at fault for an accident. 

Sometimes, that means you receive no recovery at all, but other times, it means you have to settle for less money. It is important that you understand every state’s system in case you suffer an accident while traveling out of state. 

Types of Contributory Fault

Types of Contributory Fault

Different states apply different rules to contributory fault. As such, you can divide contributory fault into three classes: contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligence. There are also two different kinds of modified comparative negligence. 

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a very harsh rule that only Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and (sometimes) Washington, D.C. apply. Under contributory negligence, you lose all of your damages if you are even 1% at fault for the accident.

Pure Comparative Negligence

A total of 13 states apply ‘pure’ comparative negligence negligence, including California. Under pure comparative negligence, a court will assign each party a percentage of fault. 

From there, you lose whatever percentage of your damages corresponds to your percentage of fault. If you were 10% at fault, for example, you would lose 10% of your damages.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Overall, 33 states apply some form of modified comparative negligence. Modified comparative negligence works like pure comparative negligence, except there is a cutoff at 50% or 51%. 

If you reach the cutoff, you lose all of your damages. Most states that use modified comparative negligence apply a 51% cutoff.

Slight/Gross Negligence

South Dakota applies its own unique system called “slight/gross negligence.” Slight gross negligence works a lot like contributory negligence. You can only recover damages if your fault was either slight or nonexistent, and if the defendant’s fault constituted “gross negligence.”

What Are Some of the Tricks the Insurance Company Might Try to Pull?

Insurance companies are businesses, and their purpose is to minimize the amount they pay out in verdicts and settlements. To this end, they have many tricks up their sleeve. Below are only a few examples: 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will not fall for any of these tricks.

Should I Settle or Sue My Personal Injury Claim?

Most people would rather settle than sue because it is quicker and easier. Even the defendant will probably prefer settlement. Settlement and trial are not necessarily mutually exclusive options, however. 

You can sue first in order to gain leverage in subsequent settlement negotiations. In practice, almost all claims settle before trial – even those that make it to court initially. Only once in a while does a claim end up all the way at trial. It can be tricky negotiating comparative fault at the settlement table, however. 

Contact an Experienced Hermosa Beach Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Determining the exact percentage of fault for an accident is a highly subjective endeavor. It is for precisely this reason that the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer is so critical in these types of cases. Schedule a free initial consultation with an Hermosa Beach personal injury lawyer with our team The Simon Law Group at your earliest convenience at (424) 722-3209.