Both parties exchanging information after a car accident.
07 Apr

Who is Responsible For an Accident and Your Personal Injury? Understanding Comparative Negligence

Determining fault and appointing accountability for an accident you were in, whether a car accident or other incident, can present complicated issues in personal injury claims. Comparative negligence becomes relevant when both parties may have played a role in the accident. According to this legal principle, the people, instead of the person responsible for the accident, must divide the blame and financial losses among themselves.

In a common personal injury case, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff (the injured party) to establish the defendant's (the party being sued) negligence. This requires proving that the defendant breached their duty of care, causing the plaintiff's injuries.

However, in comparative negligence cases, the defendant can argue that the plaintiff contributed to the accident and should share partial responsibility for their injuries. FindLaw describes the split of blame, “These theories say recovery for damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to them. This situation is often referred to as ‘apportionment of fault’ or ‘allocation of fault,’” thereby reducing the plaintiff’s recovery.

How Comparative Negligence Works

Comparative negligence in a personal injury case is when the plaintiff and the defendant share fault in causing the accident. The court assesses each party's degree of fault, determines their percentage of liability, and reduces the plaintiff's damages by their percentage of fault. Comparative negligence may arise in various situations, such as slipping and falling in a retail store or during automobile collisions.

For example, suppose a car accident occurred where both drivers were texting while driving. In that case, the court would assess each driver's negligence and determine the percentage of fault for each driver. Suppose the plaintiff was found 40% at fault and the defendant was 60% at fault. In that case, the plaintiff's damages would be reduced by 40%, and the defendant would pay the remaining 60%.

By ensuring that each party is held accountable for their part in the accident, comparative negligence avoids scenarios in which one party would be liable even when both contributed to the incident.

Types of Comparative Negligence

Pure Comparative Negligence

Pure comparative negligence is when the plaintiff's damages are reduced by the plaintiff's percentage of fault, regardless of how high it is. For instance, even if the plaintiff is seen to be 90% at fault, the defendant still has to pay 10% of the plaintiff's damages.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Under modified comparative negligence, there is a limit beyond which the plaintiff is not entitled to compensation from the respondent. Commonly, the threshold is set at 50%. This means that the plaintiff cannot seek damages from the defendant if they are held accountable for at least 51 percent of the fault.

To summarize, comparative negligence is an important rule in personal injury claims. This ensures that in situations where it’s unclear who's to blame for an accident, every involved party is held accountable for their role and that the cost of damages is allocated equally. It is essential to speak with a personal injury lawyer with experience if you have been hurt in an accident. Based in Gainesville, FL, Carrillo Injury Law works with clients to guide them through the complexity of comparative negligence and help them develop a strong case to receive the compensation they deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 352-371-4000 or emailing us at