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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of contributory negligence and how does it affect the plaintiff's ability to collect damages?

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that can significantly impact a plaintiff's ability to collect damages in a negligence case. An example of contributory negligence is when Susie, despite being cut off by a reckless driver, Tom, was found to be slightly speeding at the time of the accident. This slight negligence on Susie's part, even though Tom's recklessness was the primary cause of the accident, would prevent her from collecting damages for her injuries under the doctrine of contributory negligence. This doctrine can pose significant challenges for plaintiffs, especially those who are severely injured. Even a minor contributing factor on the part of the plaintiff can negate their negligence case, making it difficult to prove fault. This is regardless of the extent of the defendant's negligence. In response to the perceived unfairness of contributory negligence, many states have adopted the doctrine of comparative negligence. This doctrine allows courts to determine the degree of negligence of each party and adjust the damages accordingly. There are two types of comparative negligence: pure and modified. Pure comparative negligence allows a plaintiff who is partially at fault to still collect a portion of the damages. Modified comparative negligence, on the other hand, generally does not award damages to a plaintiff who is more at fault than the defendant.
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