How Can Contributory Negligence Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

When you go after someone who you feel is responsible for an injury that you have received, you likely expect that there will be some form of defense strategy projected back at you. However, what you may not expect is for the other party to claim that you were at fault for your own injury!

Contributory negligence is a term that is used in personal injury claims that basically means that your own negligence contributed to your own injury. If this is a defense strategy being used against you, it is likely raised some questions in your mind. Here are a few questions you might have:

What types of cases can the contributory negligence defense be used in?

Contributory negligence defense strategies can be used in a variety of situations--even those not related to personal injuries. When speaking of personal injury cases, contributory negligence may be brought up in motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall cases, and even work-related injuries.

If you are found at fault, does it mean you cannot seek damages?

This can depend heavily on where you live, believe it or not. Some states, such as Alabama and  Virginia, have laws known as contributory negligence laws. If you are found with the slightest fault in your own personal injury claim and live in one of these states, it will be highly unlikely for you to see a successful outcome. For example, if you are hit by another driver because you forgot to turn on your turn signal, contributory negligence laws could come into play. However, if you live outside of these jurisdictions, it may be possible for you to receive some of what you feel you are owed.

How does comparative negligence relate to contributory negligence?

Contributory negligence was at one time the norm in most locations, which meant if you bore the slightest fault, you did not have a personal injury claim. Most states have adopted comparative negligence practices to downplay the harshness of this typical practice.

Comparative negligence means that the case is looked at, and then a judge determines what percentage you are at fault. He or she then uses this percentage to determine how much of the damages you will be able to recoup. For example, if a judge decides that both you and the other party share responsibility 50/50, you will only get half of the damages you are asking for.

If you are planning to file a personal injury claim, it is a good idea to arm yourself with knowledge about the different types of defenses that may be used, especially contributory negligence. Talk openly with a personal injury lawyer, like Walz Law Office, about any responsibility you think you may share in your injury. That way, he or she can help you prepare a better case.