Comparative Negligence Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Comparative Negligence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Comparative Negligence?
In case of accidents rule that divides the responsibilty of the damages between the complainant and the accused on the basis that both the parties were equally responsible.It lessens the amount of compensation given to the complainant as it would have been in a normal case.Some states provide no compensation to the complainant who is also responsible so it is considered unfair.
History and Meaning of Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence is a legal principle that emerged in the United States in the mid-20th century as a response to the traditional doctrine of contributory negligence. Under contributory negligence, a plaintiff who was partially responsible for their own injury was barred from recovering any damages from the defendant. This often resulted in an unfair outcome if the defendant was also partially responsible.
Comparative negligence, on the other hand, allows for both the plaintiff and defendant to be assigned a percentage of fault for an accident or injury. The amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff is then reduced by their percentage of fault. This means that even if a plaintiff was partially at fault for their own injury, they can still recover some compensation for their losses.
Examples of Comparative Negligence
In a car accident case, the plaintiff might be found 25% at fault for the accident because they were speeding, while the defendant was found 75% at fault because they ran a red light. The plaintiff's damages award would then be reduced by 25%.
In a slip and fall case, the plaintiff might be found 50% at fault for not paying attention to where they were walking, while the defendant was found 50% at fault for failing to clean up a spill. The plaintiff's damages award would be reduced by 50%.
In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff might be found 10% at fault for not disclosing a pre-existing condition to their doctor, while the defendant was found 90% at fault for misdiagnosing the plaintiff's illness. The plaintiff's damages award would be reduced by 10%.
Legal Terms Similar to Comparative Negligence
Contributory negligence: The traditional doctrine in which a plaintiff who was partially at fault for their own injury could not recover any damages from the defendant.
Assumption of risk: A defense to a negligence claim in which the defendant argues that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risk of the activity that led to their injury.
Strict liability: A legal theory in which a defendant can be held liable for harm caused to the plaintiff even if the defendant was not negligent.