Difference in Comparative, Modified Comparative and Contributory Negligence

Categories: Car Accidents

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Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Accident and Injury Victims in Washington

Filing a personal injury claim becomes complex; especially when you are exposed to numerous legal terms that may seem similar to one another. One of the more confusing aspects of personal injury is that of negligence – and the forms of negligence allowed by the state. Various laws throughout the country have been established to help guide when a plaintiff can collect compensation (and when they cannot). These are seen under the comparative, modified comparative and contributory negligence laws. The state of Washington uses the contributory fault premise. Regardless, it is best to understand what each of these mean and how they can affect a claim.

Pure Contributory Negligence and Pure Contributory Fault

Contributory negligence is broken down into two separate types: pure fault and pure negligence. The state of Washington uses the Pure Contributory Fault rule.

  1. Pure Contributory Negligence – There are only four states in the country currently using this model. It states that a plaintiff cannot recover any damages even if they are one percent at-fault for the accident or injury. That means even if the defendant was 99 percent at fault and you were even one percent at fault, you are still unable to collect damages.
  2. Pure Comparative Fault – Also referred to as pure contributory fault, this rule allows a plaintiff to recovery even if they are 99 percent at fault, but they must agree to a reduced settlement based on their percentage of fault. So, you could be 80 percent at-fault and still file a claim, but your settlement value would be reduced by that 80 percent fault percentage. Therefore, a $10,000 settlement would be reduced by $8,000 – leaving you with $2,000.
  3. Modified Comparative Fault – Around 33  states in the country use this fault system. Under this rule, there is the 50 percent Bar Rule and the 51 percent Bar Rule. If you are considered 50 percent or more at fault, then under the 50 percent Bar Rule you cannot recover damages; instead, you must be 49 percent or less. Under the 51 percent Bar Rule, you cannot collect compensation if you are more than 51 percent at-fault for the accident.

How These Affect Your Case

These rules make it difficult to collect compensation – even when you are legitimately injured. That is because the defense will look for ways to put a portion of the blame on you; in order to lessen the compensation or have the case dismissed entirely. This is why it is imperative that you have a skilled attorney by your side. An attorney can help you identify possible defenses and find evidence establishing fault in your case.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Washington Today

In most car accident cases, the defense will do what they can to increase the at-fault percentage against the victim. That is why you need an experienced car accident attorney by your side to help prove the negligence of the defendant and preserve your right to compensation. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC today. We offer free consultations and we do not collect our fee unless we win your case – so you have nothing to lose. Schedule your appointment now with a skilled accident and injury lawyer by calling 800-925-1875 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.

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Matt Conner

Matt Conner, a distinguished attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, brings a unique blend of financial and legal expertise to his practice. Graduating with a double major in mathematics and economics from Willamette University, he initially honed his analytical skills as an economist for the State of Oregon. Specializing in personal injury law, Matt is adept at handling a wide array of cases, including multiparty litigation against large entities, and claims involving gun violence, sexual and police misconduct, car accidents, traumatic brain injuries, and wrongful death. Admitted to the Washington State Bar in 2014, he is known for his tenacious advocacy and deep compassion for clients facing life-altering challenges. His approach is not just about legal representation; it’s about restoring lives.