When The Difference Isn't Just Negligible: Understaning The Different Kinds Of Negligence In Auto Accidents

When it comes to auto accidents, every state has its own laws about fault. The differences can be significant, particularly in regards to negligence. Although auto accidents are rarely caused intentionally, negligence – the failure to act properly – is often the cause. Sometimes that negligence lies with just one person, but it is often shared. Read on to learn about the different types of negligence in auto accidents today.

Comparing Fault Levels: Comparative Negligence

The majority of states have comparative negligence laws for auto accidents. The goal of comparative negligence laws is to compare fault levels between the people involved in the auto accident so the court can allocate blame in the form of a percentage. There are two kinds of comparative negligence.

  • Pure Comparative Negligence: This type of comparative negligence is the most flexible of all auto accident negligence laws. The states that have pure comparative negligence laws allow anyone who is hurt in an auto accident to file for damage compensation, regardless of their blame percentage. The blame percentage is important because any requested damages must be reduced by that same percentage.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence: This kind of comparative negligence allows auto accident compensation only to people who have a certain blame percentage, or lower than the stated percentage. Some states set the blame percentage at 50 and others set it at 51. This means that only people who are 50 (or 49) percent or less responsible for an auto accident can pursue compensation.

Determining Who Contributed: Contributory Negligence

In five places (Alabama, Washington D.C., North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland), comparative negligence laws are replaced by contributory negligence laws. Contributory negligence laws are the most cut–and–dried of all auto accident negligence laws.

Contributory negligence laws in these states say that if there is any division of fault in the auto accident case, compensation can't be pursued. Essentially, this means that only people who are completely innocent of any wrongdoing in the auto accident can get compensated for an injury that they suffered.

Due to the very strict nature of contributory negligence laws, it can be difficult to get compensation, even when there is no fault on one end. The responsible party has only to claim that the injured person has one percent of responsibility in the accident to get out of compensating them.

For this reason, an auto accident lawyer is essential. The lawyer can clearly demonstrate that fault is completely on the other end with evidence from the accident site, witnesses, and expert testimony if necessary. Whether it's a comparative negligence state or a contributory negligence state, an accident lawyer is the best way to make sure you get the compensation you deserve!