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Determining liability in a motor vehicle accident is often a challenging process. Most cases of this nature are based on the theory of negligence and proving which party is at fault for the accident and a person’s injuries. However, the compensation you receive for damages could be limited if your negligence was a factor in the accident. This falls under the shared fault rules of “comparative” and “contributory” negligence.

Comparative negligence

The comparative negligence rule places fault on both parties that were involved. In most states that have adopted this defense, a defendant (the accused at-fault party) can employ a partial defense and say that the plaintiff (injured party) was partially liable or responsible for the collision. Keep in mind that comparative negligence rules will vary from one state to the next as follows:

• Modified comparative negligence – in states that follow the modified comparative negligence rule, the victim’s amount of compensation is limited if their liability exceeds a certain degree or percentage.

• Pure comparative negligence – victims in states such as California, Florida, and New York can recover some damages regardless of their degree of negligence.

Contributory negligence

There are only 5 states still follow the contributory negligence rules. In these states, if your negligence contributed to the accident, the rule bars injury victims from recovering any damages should the defendant is able to prove that your negligence contributed to the event. Even if your percentage of fault is minimal, you won’t get a dime for your injuries, hence the reason that only 5 states are still following the contributory negligence rule.

Establishing Negligence on behalf of the Victim

Every individual that gets behind the wheel of their vehicle is taking responsibility for their own safety as well as that of others that they are sharing the road with. Personal injury lawyer in Garden Grove knows that if a motor vehicle accident victim fails to do so, they could be deemed negligent and responsible for their own injuries. Examples of plaintiff negligence include:

• interfering with the driver while they are operating the vehicle
• jaywalking as a pedestrian
• riding in a defective vehicle or one with dangerous mechanical issues
• riding with a drunk, fatigued, or reckless driver
• speeding as a driver

Defendants in motor vehicle lawsuits must show that the plaintiff was negligent and that this contributed to the accident. Also, if the plaintiff’s actions caused their injuries to be more severe, but were not at fault for causing the collision, the defendant will not win with this defense. That is why it helps to have a good lawyer working with you to ensure that you get the desired compensation.

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