How Negligence Affects Your Car Accident Claim

Car accidents can only occur if someone messes up while driving. That negligence can later be used in the case of a claim between the plaintiff and defendant if the plaintiff claims that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident. But what exactly is negligence, and does being found guilty of it automatically forfeit your rights to any compensations at all? Like all laws, negligence is complicated and differs by state. You’ll need to research what category of negligence your state rules by, but below are the basic guidelines to the general types of negligence.

Defining Negligence 

Negligence simply means who is responsible for causing the accident. When any driver gets behind the wheel, he or she is abiding by the social contract that he or she will not cause damage to anyone or any property. If they do, their reason for doing so (such as running a red light, not turning on headlights at night, or not looking before turning into an intersection) is negligent and holds them at fault for the crash.

Comparative Negligence 

The broadest category of negligence, comparative means that both parties involved in the crash can be held responsible to some degree. This may not be an even split, as one driver could be considered only 30% at fault for the crash while the other is 60%. The compensation from each one’s insurance companies will reflect that split.

Modified Comparative Negligence 

A slight variation of regular comparative negligence means that you can only be at fault for the accident up to a certain percent. If it’s proven that you were responsible above that limit, you may not be able to obtain compensation from the more guilty driver’s insurance company.

Pure Comparative Negligence 

If your state has pure comparative negligence, you can get compensation for the crash even if you were mainly responsible for causing it. This is probably the least favored among insurance companies because it means they have to cover people who may be most guilty.

Contributory Negligence 

If your case goes to court when you are claiming the other driver was negligent, the defendant has the right to try to prove that you were also guilty. It does not matter if you made only a slight mistake while they made a blundering error: you cannot gain compensation from their insurance if they successfully prove you were not completely innocent.

Negligence laws are confusing and chaotic, so discussing them with a lawyer, like an car accident attorney in Melbourne, Florida, and how they pertain to your case can be the best way to navigate these muddled waters. You may find that once you’ve got it all straightened out, you have a clear path to earning the most compensation for your damages.


Thank you to the experts at Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, PLLC, for their insight into auto accident injury and the law.