Comparative negligence is the legal doctrine that personal injuries are are not always the total fault of another party. Many times the injured victim actually contributes at least in a small portion to their own harm. Most states use comparative negligence in some form when settling accident injury claims with four states and the District of Columbia using the antiquated concept of contributory negligence that was used in the British system. Contributory negligence holds that even 1% of fault by the claimant toward causing an injury justifies a case dismissal. Luckily for New York residents, the state uses the more modern “pure” comparative negligence policy that allows for better results in accident injury cases.
The first step in evaluating an accident is determining personal fault for all involved parties. Using an auto accident as an example, all drivers are assessed for driving behavior and vehicular control in the official accident investigation complied by the jurisdictional law enforcement agency. Different accidents will have different levels of evaluation, such as trucking accidents. Each driver is assigned a comparative fault percentage that is used in discounting the total value of their accident injury claims.
How pure comparative negligence applies
Outside of the contributory negligence states and the District of Columbia, states that do not use pure comparative negligence will use a form of modified comparative negligence that sets a bar at either 50% or 51% fault for denying any personal injury damages for drivers. In the pure comparative negligence system, only those victims totally at fault are denied personal injury claim benefits. Even a driver with 99% fault can receive 1% of total injury claim benefits.