Understanding Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Lawsuits

Whenever we hear about an accident, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is “Who was responsible?” Now, if we see the technological advancements, it can be seen that we cannot just easily blame anyone. A lot of times, it is just one person to blame, as there can be two people at fault at the same time.

This is actually the point where comparative negligence comes in. In simple words, it is the way to find out who is responsible for the accident and how they are responsible.

So, for example, if you are responsible for 20% of the fault, you will receive only 20% of the payouts for the damages and injuries.

A personal injury lawyer in Houston can help you not settle for just the 20%, they can explain this can use their expertise to help you out.

What is Comparative Negligence? 

Comparative negligence is a legal term that tells us that in case of an accident how much an individual is at fault. Instead of just blaming one person out of the two, when it comes to commemorative negligence, it plays fair and allows a possibility that both parties can be at fault.

There are other systems also followed that are quite different from comparative negligence. The traditional “contributory negligence system” is the one where an “all or nothing” approach is followed. In this case, if a person is just responsible for 20% of the fault, he will not be getting any paybacks.

Types of Comparative Negligence

When it comes to comparative negligence, it is not about one size fits all. There are different rules set according to different states. So, who is given what at the site of the accident? This can be decided after the understanding of two types of comparative negligence.

Let’s understand the two.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In this form of comparative negligence, you can take a huge amount from the other party, even if you are the one who is mostly at fault. The twist here is that the amount will be reduced depending on your fault and its severity.

This can be easily understood by an example, if you were at 30% fault while the other part was at 70%, and you had $10,000 in damages, now you can claim $7000 from the

another party was involved, as they were 70% at fault.

Modified Comparative Negligence

This type of comparative negligence comes with a limit. You can only get the money from the other party if they are more at fault compared to you. In this case, if you are more than 50% or 51% at fault, then there is no chance that you will be getting any payouts. In the case of 50%, there is still a chance.

And if by any chance the other part is at 51% at fault and you are 49%, you will be getting the money.

Some states do twist it more by further specifying the modified comparative negligence.

Deciding which type of comparative negligence will suit you is super important for you to know. But again it all depends from state to state.

Damage Calculation with Comparative Negligence

The calculator of the damages is a really responsible task that can take a lot from you. To calculate you need to check:

Total Damages

First, you have to look out for all the damages that have happened and to what extent. This can be observed by looking at the bills, the repairs, and the tangible factors like the suffering and the pain.

Calculating Fault Percentage

After the observation, it is time to find out the percentage you are at fault. This can be found out by insurance adjusters, court judgments, and police reports.

Use the Percentage

You can then apply this percentage in order to calculate the reduced damages that you can claim from the other party.

All the adjustments are always done according to the state law. This tells the either pure or modified system has been in use. Always keep in mind that the damages are just not confined to the cost occurring immediately. It also includes the long-term impacts that you have endured as well as your vehicle has.

Also, one more thing to keep in mind here is that the calculations highly depend on the fact that whether you are using an insurance claim or are involved in a court case.


A better understanding of comparative negligence along with the proper idea of its calculation is what can prepare you for your case the best. The role of a lawyer plays a very important here as they can help you with the negotiation of the money that you need to get back or give away. So, make sure to get in touch with an attorney as soon as you get into a car accident.



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