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Frequently Asked Questions

What is comparative negligence and how does it differ from contributory negligence?

Comparative negligence and contributory negligence are two legal concepts used to determine fault and liability in cases of personal injury. Contributory negligence, as illustrated by the example of Susie and Tom, is a doctrine where if a plaintiff is found to be even slightly at fault for the incident that caused their injury, they are barred from recovering any damages. This rule can be harsh and often results in perceived unfairness, as even a minor contribution to the accident can prevent a plaintiff from receiving compensation. Comparative negligence, on the other hand, is a more nuanced approach. It allows the court to assign a degree of fault to each party involved in the accident. The damages awarded to the plaintiff are then reduced by their percentage of fault. There are two types of comparative negligence: pure and modified. Pure comparative negligence allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they are 95% at fault, while modified comparative negligence generally bars recovery if the plaintiff is equally or more at fault than the defendant. The specific rules can vary from state to state.
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