Comparative Negligence

Comparative Negligence

Under the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, when both a plaintiff and a defendant are guilty of negligence, the plaintiff’s damage award will be reduced by the amount of his responsibility for the accident. For example, a motorcycle collides with a truck at an intersection. At the time of the collision, the motorcycle rider was exceeding the legal speed limit. Just before the collision, the truck driver ran a red light. The motorcycle rider files a personal injury action against the truck driver. A jury determines that the truck driver is 80% at fault for the accident and the motorcycle rider is 20% at fault. The jury awards the motorcycle rider $10,000 in damages. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the motorcycle rider’s $10,000 damage award will be reduced by 20% because he was 20% at fault for the accident. Therefore, the motorcycle rider can recover only $8,000 from the truck driver.

Most states have adopted some form of comparative negligence for personal injury cases.

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