The differences between contributory and comparative negligence
When a car accident occurs, the persons involved in the accident have the right to sue for damages caused by the incident. When determining the outcome of the case, the most important factor taken into consideration is negligence. Since more than one party is often at fault, many states, including Massachusetts, make use of a theory known as comparative negligence.When comparative negligence is the law, courts can establish how much a certain individual contributed to a vehicle accident. For example, if a court determines that an individual is responsible for 50 percent of an accident, that individual will only be able to recover 50 percent of the damages caused by the accident. One of the advantages of using comparative negligence is that it can allow individuals to recover damages regardless of how much they were at fault. Some states, however, only allow injured individuals to recover for damages if their comparative negligence is under 50 percent. Some states still utilize contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence. In these states, individuals don’t have the ability to sue if their negligence also contributed to the accident. The only states that still make use of this legal doctrine are Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, D.C. and North Carolina.When someone is injured in a car accident, it is often in their best interests to work with a legal professional to determine if and how compensation can be received. If a lawyer recommends that legal action should be taken, a claim can then be assembled and evaluated. This claim will then be taken to a court and a judge or jury will decide on the outcome of the case, or in some situations, a settlement might be made outside of court.