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How comparative negligence works in injury cases

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Personal Injury |

Personal injury law in Morristown, New Jersey, covers several categories of accidents where victims can file a claim against the liable party. Plaintiffs have the right to seek compensation, but state law governs how much they can receive.

Overview of negligence laws

Each state sets negligence laws that restrict how much compensation victims receive. Most states follow the comparative negligence law, which requires parties in a personal injury case to share a percentage of fault.

The percentage of fault gets deducted from the amount that the plaintiff seeks from the defendant. For example, if the plaintiff seeks $30,000 and the court assigns 10% fault, they collect $27,000. This law ensures that providers only pay for the damages caused by their client.

Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., apply contributory negligence rules, meaning the plaintiff didn’t follow reasonable care to avoid injury. If the plaintiff is found to be just 1% at fault, they cannot collect damages.

Modified comparative negligence

Comparative fault divides into two subcategories: modified comparative fault and pure comparative fault. Twenty-one states including New Jersey apply the modified comparative fault laws, meaning plaintiffs cannot recover damages if they are over 51% fault. Some other states that follow the 51% rule include Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

This law is in between contributory negligence and pure comparative negligence, which allows both parties to collect regardless of blame percentage. If the plaintiff wishes to collect full damage from the defendant, they must prove they are 60% at fault. Twelve states apply the 50% modified comparative fault law, which prohibits compensation at 50% or more fault.

The outcome of each accident case is left to the discretion of the jury and often includes exceptions, such as product liability cases. Knowledge of how these laws work may help a plaintiff decide if they should seek compensation.

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