Comparative Negligence

Personal Injury Basics: What Is Comparative Negligence?

What is comparative negligence? It’s a term that most people will never come across in their lifetimes. But, if you’re someone involved in a motorcycle accident-related legal claim, it can mean the difference. 

Here, we break down comparative negligence: what it is, the different types, which states practice which type, and more. 

What Is Comparative Negligence? 

Comparative negligence, also called comparative fault, is a legal concept. According to this concept, the percent of fault a jury assigns to a plaintiff reduces the amount the plaintiff is able to recover. Different states practice different forms of comparative negligence. 

Types of Comparative Negligence 

There are three main comparative negligence legal concepts recognized in the US. They are pure comparative, partial comparative, and pure contributory negligence.

You should hire a personal injury lawyer if you are hit in a motorcycle accident because they will be able to tell you which comparative negligence rule your state practices and how it will affect the outcome of your case.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Pure comparative negligence is a legal concept that allows a plaintiff to collect damages from the defendant even if the jury finds the plaintiff to be 99 percent at fault for the accident. But, the amount the plaintiff can recover is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them. 

The following states practice pure comparative negligence: 

  • Alaska 
  • Arizona 
  • California
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island 
  • South Dakota
  • Washington

Partial Comparative Negligence 

This is also called modified comparative negligence and falls into two categories.

The first category is the 50 percent bar rule. According to this rule, a plaintiff may be able to collect damages from the defendant if the jury finds them to be less than 50 percent at fault for the accident.

The second category is the 51 percent bar rule. According to this rule, a plaintiff can collect compensation if the jury finds them 50 percent or less at fault. But, the plaintiff will not be able to collect compensation if a jury finds them 51 percent or higher at fault. 

The following states practice the 50 percent bar rule:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Nebraska 
  • North Dakota
  • South Carolina 
  • Tennessee 
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

The following states practice the 51 percent bar rule:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana 
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts 
  • Michigan 
  • Minnesota 
  • Montana 
  • Nevada 
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio 
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Texas
  • Vermont 
  • Wyoming

Pure Contributory Negligence 

Pure contributory negligence is the strictest of the three legal concepts. According to the concept, if a jury finds the plaintiff to be even a single percent at fault, then they will not be allowed to collect any damages from the defendant.

Pure contributory negligence is only practiced in a handful of states, including:

  • Alabama
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C. 

Comparative Negligence Affects Your Case 

Now that we’ve answered “what is comparative negligence?”, you have an idea of how it may affect your motorcycle accident case. A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you further understand what you’re up against and your legal options. 

Browse our ‘Bikes’ archive for more bike and motorcycle-related content. 

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