After a car accident, it may be logical to assume that one driver was at fault for the crash. However, there are some cases where more than one driver might have contributed to the accident. A lawyer can use contributory or comparative negligence defenses in court to help their client reduce the amount of damages potentially owed.
Comparative negligence means that anyone who was hurt in a crash could have their award reduced by a certain percentage. For instance, if a jury found that the plaintiff was 10 percent responsible for the crash, their award would be reduced by 10 percent. It is possible that the driver who brings a lawsuit will be found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident and have an award reduced significantly.
In a contributory negligence state, a driver could only sue if their own negligence did not contribute to the accident. Even in states where comparative negligence is used, a driver might only be able to sue if they are 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. The goal is to prevent drivers who may actually have been at fault for the accident from suing and collecting damages for an accident that they caused.
After a motor vehicle accident, it is possible for a driver to pay damages to anyone who was hurt in that accident. Those who were injured in a car accident may wish to consult a personal injury attorney to determine their legal rights. It might be possible to win compensation for medical bills and lost wages. If an injury sustained in the crash prevents an injured victim from going to work permanently, compensation may be awarded for lost future earnings.
Source: FindLaw, "Defenses: Contributory and Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases," Accessed March 11, 2015