• Post category:General

There are more than 30 thousand vehicle accidents every year in Ontario. Most of these accidents occur due to driver’s distraction, negligence, pedestrians’ carelessness, or faulty road. The first question people ask after an accident is, ” who was at fault?” That’s where the concept of contributory and comparative negligence comes to play.

It provides a way to allocate fault between parties where the answer is not clear on who is responsible for what degree when an accident occurred. According to these terms, a party even if injured may be comparatively negligent for his injury or may contribute to an act of negligence. In this article, we are going to discuss contributory and comparative negligence and how these terms come into play in an injury compensation claim.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence, in law, indicates the plaintiff’s (one who brought the charge) failure to be careful or reasonable for their own safety. It comes to action when one party fails to meet the standard of reason or prudence. In a word, this law points out the subject that an injured person in an accident can be responsible for his injury and accident. It is a defense against a tort claim.

Contributory negligence can reduce the amount of compensation and completely bars plaintiffs from any recovery.  For its harsh tone, many states don’t practice contributory negligence anymore.

Example of Contributory Negligence

Suppose a person crosses a road and a car hits him. Now the accident happens due to the driver’s negligence but the pedestrian also can be careless and contribute to the accident. So, the pedestrian may be barred from the complete recovery of damages from the driver.

What is Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a tort rule that dictates two parties’ liability in an accident. It is based upon the degree to which the injured’s own negligence contributes to the injury or accident. Most states practice comparative negligence instead of contributory negligence. It is a modification of contributory negligence law.

Two approaches are followed for comparative negligence-

Pure Comparative Negligence: The doctrine of pure comparative negligence is simple. According to this law, plaintiffs are eligible for compensation only to the extent they are not responsible for the injury. For example, if a person is 20% responsible for his/her injury, his/her compensation would get 20% reduced.

Let me put it in different words. Suppose a pedestrian gets hit by a car. Now the driver is liable to give him compensation for his injury. Now, suppose he was using his cell phone right before the accident. He would still get the compensation but his compensation would be reduced to a certain degree.

Modified Comparative Negligence: In modified comparative negligence, the plaintiff will get compensated if his culpability doesn’t exceed a certain threshold. Most states practice modified comparative negligence. The threshold of culpability can vary from state to state.

Suppose, Seth Rogen was passing the road and got injured by Ryan Reynolds’ car. Seth sued Ryan for compensation in a state where the modified comparative negligence law has a 50% threshold. Now if Seth is 40% responsible for the accident, he will still get 60% of the total compensation. But if he is 60% responsible, he will not receive any compensation since he exceeds the 50% threshold of culpability.

Final Thoughts

A personal injury claim is always a complicated case as it becomes very difficult to pinpoint who is responsible for what degree to an accident. It gets tricky from time to time. The compensation claim many times depends on how the plaintiff represents his case. Many angles can be drawn out from a case. An experienced skilled personal injury lawyer can make a real difference if the culpability of the plaintiff is on a higher degree.

If you need any help to file your personal injury case, contact us for a one-hour free consultation.