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Contributory vs. Comparative Negligence: What You Should Know

When two cars collide, it's not always clear who is at fault. In some cases, both drivers may share blame for the accident. In other cases, one driver may be more at fault than the other. Determining who is at fault in a car accident can be tricky, so it's crucial to understand the main differences between contributory and comparative negligence.

Contributory Negligence

If you live in a contributory negligence state, you cannot recover compensation after a crash if the defendant can prove that the plaintiff acted negligently in the slightest bit. This form of negligence can lead to harsh results as it rejects compensation to victims even with the smallest degree of fault. This is why only five states follow this rule.

Contributory negligence states include:

  • Alabama
  • North Carolina
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence assigns blame in car accidents by determining the defendant's and plaintiff's faults. It is divided into three rules: pure comparative negligence, slight/gross negligence, and modified comparative negligence. While California and Louisiana follow pure comparative negligence, Texas is a modified comparative state.

Pure Comparative

In a pure comparative state, you can seek compensation no matter how much fault you played in the accident. However, it’s essential to note that your recovery will be minimized depending on your degree of fault.

Modified Comparative

Modified comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to seek compensation if their fault falls under a certain threshold. In Texas, plaintiffs cannot recover damages if they were 51% or more at fault.

Houston, Baton Rouge, & LA Attorneys

If you’ve recently sustained injuries as a result of a car accident, you may be wondering what your legal options are. The Robins Cloud LLP team is here to provide legal aid to help victims better understand their options. If you’re in need of assistance, call our office at (800) 691-2363 or visit our website to get started on a consultation request form.