How Comparative Negligence Works in an Injury Claim

March 28, 2024
Personal Injury

Determining the percentage of fault and liability in personal injury law can be complex. Multiple parties may contribute to an accident or injury. Comparative negligence rules are a legal principle used to allocate comparative fault and damages when more than one party is involved in an auto accident. Each party's degree of negligence is assessed, and damages are allocated accordingly.

For more information regarding the comparative negligence principle in a potential claim, contact Marks Law Group's experienced Decatur personal injury attorneys.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence Laws determine the degree of fault in an injury claim. It applies when multiple parties are responsible for an accident. Compensation will be reduced based on the accident victim's level of fault.

Comparative negligence ensures fairness and assigns responsibility accurately. It recognizes that accidents can have multiple causes. There are two types: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Pure comparative negligence laws aim to establish a fair and equitable system for determining liability and compensation for damages in accidents. Both drivers involved can seek compensation regardless of fault, recognizing that accidents can have multiple contributing factors.

However, the settlement amount considers each party's degree of fault and duty of care. For example, if someone is 99 percent at fault, their settlement would be reduced by 99%. This system holds individuals accountable while still allowing them to seek compensation for medical expenses and property damage if partially at fault.


Ultimately, pure comparative negligence laws promote fairness by acknowledging shared responsibility and providing an opportunity for proportionate compensation. These states apply a pure comparative negligence rule: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence is a legal concept that determines who can collect compensation in a personal injury case based on fault. Unlike pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence sets a threshold for collecting damages.

Under the 50% Bar Rule, if an individual's fault is 50% or higher, they cannot collect any compensation from an insurance company. Each state has its own modified comparative negligence laws and thresholds. Ten states in the United States follow the 50% rule. These states include Alaska, Arizona, North Dakota, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, and New York.

The Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence

Determining fault in personal injury claims is crucial. Sometimes one party is fully responsible, but often both parties share some blame. Comparative negligence and contributory negligence are concepts that allocate fault in personal injury claims.

The Comparative Negligence Doctrine allows for damages to be allocated based on each party's fault. Even if based on police reports and witness statements, due to lack of reasonable care, the injury victim is partially responsible even for a wrongful death, they can still receive compensation.

Contributory Negligence Laws, however, bar injured parties from recovering any compensation if they contributed to their injuries, even minimally. Comparative negligence is generally seen as fairer, while the contributory negligence rule is strict and can lead to unjust outcomes.

Many jurisdictions have transitioned to comparative negligence to ensure a more equitable allocation of damages award.

What Happens When Multiple Parties Share Responsibility for an Accident?

In personal injury claims related to negligence, multiple parties can be at fault for an accident. Comparative negligence standards decide how damages are allocated based on the allocation of fault. Each party's level of fault is considered in the comparative fault model, and damages are divided accordingly.

Different jurisdictions have different rules for comparative negligence. Some allow recovery even if the injured party is mostly at fault, while others have a fault threshold. These rules aim to balance compensation and accountability.


It is important to understand the legal doctrine in your jurisdiction for your legal and recovery options. Comparative negligence provides a fair system for sharing damages in personal injury claims. It considers each party's fault percentage and divides the damages accordingly. This ensures that injured parties can still receive compensation, even if they are partially responsible.

Comparative negligence replaces strict contributory negligence to promote fair distribution of damages in personal injury insurance claims. It recognizes that accidents can have multiple causes and holds each party accountable for their degree of responsibility.

How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Compensation

If you live in a state with a pure comparative negligence system, your chances of receiving compensation for an accident are still possible even if your level of responsibility is higher than the other party involved. This means that the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced according to your percentage of responsibility.

For example, if you are found during the legal process to be 20% responsible for the accident and you have $100,000 worth of damages, you would be eligible to receive $80,000 in damage awards.

Learn More: How Does an Injury Lawyer Prove Negligence?

However, it is important to note that there is a limit to how much fault one can have and still be eligible for compensation. In states with a pure comparative negligence system, if you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, then you will not be able to receive any compensation. Therefore, your chances of receiving compensation greatly decrease if you are found to have majority fault in the accident.

In states with a modified comparative negligence system, the threshold for eligibility differs slightly. Under this type of negligence system, if you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you will also not be eligible for compensation. However, some states may have a higher threshold of fault attributable such as 51% or 52%. It is crucial to understand how comparative negligence works in your specific state as it can directly impact your legal action.

Questions About Comparative Negligence? Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been involved in an accident and are considering filing a personal injury claim, understanding how comparative negligence works is crucial. Comparative negligence is a legal principle that determines the proportion of fault each party bears in causing an accident or injury.

To delve deeper into this complex topic, contact the experienced attorneys from Marks Law Group who have experience handling cases involving comparative negligence. Book a consultation today, call our Decatur negligence lawyers at (678) 251-9309!