Comparative Negligence: 4 Questions To Ask Your Attorney


Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you recoup losses you may experience from a loss of work and hefty medical bills as a result of the accident, but what happens if you were partially at fault for the incident? The role you played may result in a comparative negligence case, where the courts decide the percentage of each participant’s fault. If you plan to pursue a lawsuit but the defendant says you were partially at fault for an accident, there are a few questions you may want to ask your attorney before you proceed.

  1. What Actions Can the Defendant Claim? 

Before a court can claim comparative negligence, the defendant in the case will have to prove that some action you took caused part of the accident. He or she might use witness accounts or police reports to support the proof. For example, the defendant may claim you were partially at fault for a car wreck because you were adjusting your radio or a map app on your phone and took your eyes off the road.

  1. Can I Still File a Lawsuit? 

Even if an insurance adjuster or court finds you partially at fault for an accident, you may still be able to collect on a claim. However, how much you may collect can depend on how responsible you were for the incident. If it is found that the fault lies largely upon you, the amount of money you can pursue may be limited.

  1. What Laws Does My State Follow? 

While most states use comparative negligence, some modify the law depending on the circumstances. Some calculate percentages and limit how much you can claim based on that number, or they subtract that amount from the total you might win in a case. A few states, such as Virginia and Alabama, use what is known as pure contributory negligence, where neither party can collect damages if they were both responsible for the accident.

  1. What If I Could Not Avoid the Action? 

During an accident, it may be that you could not avoid causing property damage or personal injury, such as if you are rear-ended and it pushes your car into the one in front of you. While you still may be held responsible for some percentage of the accident, the individual who hit you will likely be faulted for the greater amount.

Understanding comparative negligence can be challenging when you plan to file a personal injury lawsuit, but help is available. Reach out to an attorney today, like a personal injury attorney in Scottsdale, AZ, for assistance and to schedule an initial consultation.


Thank you to the experts at Yearin Law Office for their insight into personal injury and the law.