• Dec
    Posted in:
    Posted by: Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr

    What is Comparative Negligence?

    When it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, the basic premise is that the defendant has failed to exercise an appropriate or reasonable level of care in order to prevent the plaintiff from having suffered harm. Variations of this claim are made in medical malpractice lawsuits, in product liability suits, in cases involving automobile accidents, workplace accidents, and more. Frequently, when a jury is asked to determine the damages that a victim has suffered in a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant will also ask them to consider the extent to which the injured party was responsible for their own injury. This is known as comparative negligence. Comparative negligence often plays a very important role in the way that a jury will determine how much compensation a victim should receive.

    Comparative negligence is easy to understand when it is framed within an example. In the case of a lawsuit in which a smoker diagnosed  with cancer sues an asbestos company for exposing them to a carcinogenic product, the jury may decide that the victim contributed to his own illness by having smoked cigarettes for forty years, and assign 20% of the blame to the plaintiff. In this example, if the jury had decided that the victim was entitled to $1 million in compensation, the amount that the asbestos company was required to pay him would be reduced by 20% to $800,000. The same principle comes into play in automobile accidents where both drivers have broken a traffic law, or in slip-and-fall accidents where the injured person is shown to have failed to pay adequate attention to their surroundings.

    Whether you are working directly with an insurance carrier to get the compensation that you deserve or are considering filing a lawsuit against the person or party responsible for your injury, you need to understand that your adversary wants to reduce the amount of money that they need to pay you, and that they are likely to argue that you bear some responsibility for what happened. This is called contributory negligence.

    If you suffered some kind of injury and you wish to seek compensation for the damages that you suffered, it is important that you understand the risk that the question of comparative negligence will arise and work with an attorney prepared to show that you did not contribute to your own injury. To speak with an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer, contact us today to set up an appointment.


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