Protecting Your Rights | Personal Injury

Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence: Understanding the Difference

Most people know what the word negligence means, but if you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, you are likely discovering that there are multiple types of negligence in the court of law. In order to win your case, it will typically be necessary to be able to establish negligence in the other party. This is why it is important to understand the difference between comparative negligence and contributory negligence and which one will apply in your case.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is when the courts will work to determine how much each party is responsible for an injury. If they determine that you are 25% responsible and the other party is 75% responsible, they will assign damages based on that. For example, if the courts would have awarded you $100,000 for your injuries related to a car accident, but they found that you were 25% responsible for the accident, you would only receive $75,000.

There are two distinct types of comparative negligence that you should be aware of. They are:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence – This is where the courts will determine your exact percentage of negligence and apply that to the damages. Whether you are 0% at fault, or 99% at fault, you can receive damages.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence – In this type, the courts will determine your level of negligence. If it is above a certain threshold (usually 50 or 51%), then you are entitled to nothing as you were the primary cause of the injury.

What is Contributory Negligence?

When dealing with personal injury cases, if the concept of contributory negligence is used it will mean that you need to show that the other party is 100% at fault for your injury. If you contributed to the injury in even a small way, they would not have to compensate you for the injury. For example, if you were rear ended in an auto accident, but the other party can show that one of your brake lights was out, you would be entitled to nothing. Even if they were driving too fast for conditions and not paying attention, the fact that your brake light may have contributed even a small amount to the accident means you would be entitled to nothing.

Which Applies to Florida Personal Injury Cases?

The state of Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that you can win your suit even if you had a significant role in your injury. When fighting in this type of lawsuit, it is important to not only establish that your injuries were caused by the event in question, but also minimize your level of negligence in the event. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another party, please contact Sutton Law Group to discuss your situation so we can help you throughout this important process. 

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Sutton Law Group

Sutton Law Group is a leading Miami law firm that has served both personal and business clients since 1985. We provide legal services in the areas of personal injury, commercial litigation, construction injury, real estate, criminal defense, and estate planning.

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