Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence
Throughout the U.S., each state utilizes a different system for awarding damages in civil litigation claims. Some uphold pure comparative negligence or pure contributory negligence laws, while others follow a system ofmodified comparative fault—the most notable variance being whether or not the plaintiff will be allowed to recover compensation if they, themselves have contributed to their own injuries. For example, the state of Oregon follows a system of modified comparative negligence with a 51% rule. This means that the plaintiff, or victim, would be able to pursue apersonal injury lawsuit against a negligent party or individual even if they were partially at fault for causing the accident in which they were injured. In keeping with the 51% rule, however, they would be barred from financial recovery if a judge or jury decided that they were more than 51% at fault.
Should it be decided that the plaintiff was only 40% at fault, they would still be able to secure 60% of the original damages—which would be $60,000 of a $100,000 award, for example. This system is typically advantageous for the victim, as they must only need to prove that they were not mostly at fault. In its pure form, comparative negligence laws may even allow the plaintiff to secure compensation if they were deemed 99% responsible for causing their own injuries. This can be a good and a bad thing, however, as it may also leave the plaintiff susceptible to a counter-lawsuit. On the opposite side of the spectrum, pure contributory negligence laws typically favor the defendant. Using this system, the plaintiff would be barred from recovering any amount of compensation if a judge or jury has decided that they were even 1% responsible for contributing to the accident.
If you or someone you love has been injured by another person’s negligent, careless or reckless actions, it is important to understand what type of standard your claim will be subjected to. In some cases, it may be more advantageous to pursue an alternative course of action—like accepting a settlement offer. That being said, it is highly recommended that you discuss your case with a knowledgeable legal professional before moving forward with your case. Fortunately, you can speak with a Portland personal injury attorney from the Law Offices of Timothy Grabe at no cost. When you call our office at 503-223-0022, you can take advantage of a free initial consultation. If you would prefer to contact us online, you can also fill out a complimentary evaluation form with some basic information about your case –click here to get started.