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What Are the Differences Between Contributory and Comparative Negligence?

When you are hurt in an accident due to the actions of another person, understanding your legal options is essential. Unfortunately, you may find that recovering compensation for your sustained injuries is more complex than merely submitting your medical records to someone. You must understand that different laws surrounding who was negligent and how compensation for the victim is determined. Two important concepts to be aware of are contributory and comparative negligence. The following blog explores what you should know about these laws in California and why it is in your best interest to connect with Irvine personal injury lawyers to guide you through these complex matters.

What Are Contributory and Comparative Negligence?

In personal injury cases, determining fault is imperative to understanding who can be responsible for the injuries inflicted. While California’s pure comparative fault laws provide protections to a victim who may have been partially responsible for their injuries, other states have different rules, which are explored further below as comparison.

Contributory negligence states that anyone who contributes to a personal injury is prohibited from collecting damages. Even if you are found one percent at fault, you can be barred from recovering funds, making it hard for the victims of accidents to receive the financial support they need.

Comparative negligence allows those determined to be partially responsible for the accident to recover compensation. For example, if you are determined to be twenty percent responsible for the collision, the damages you are awarded will be reduced by your percentage of fault, which, in this case, is twenty percent. However, there are different kinds of comparative negligence:

  • Pure comparative negligence: This allows someone to recover compensation regardless of how much fault they had in the accident. For example, if you are 90% responsible for the accident, you can fight to collect 10% from the other party. 
  • Modified comparative negligence: When you are involved in an accident, you can collect damages, depending on your percentage of fault. So long as you are less than fifty or fifty-one percent responsible, depending on the state, you are eligible to fight for compensation. However, if it is discovered that you are fifty or fifty-one percent responsible, you will be barred from collecting compensation.

Does California’s Pure Comparative Fault Laws Provide Protections for Victims?

In California personal injury cases, whether in a car accident, hurt in a premises liability accident, or the victim of a product malfunction, you can fight for compensation under the pure comparative negligence law in California even if you were partially, or even primarily, responsible for your injuries.

However, fighting for compensation is not as simple as you may assume. If you have been hurt, you should connect with an experienced personal injury attorney, at California Personal Injury Law Firm, APC. We understand how complex these matters can be and we are ready to examine your case to determine how we can assist you. Contact us today.

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