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Comparative Fault

In personal injury law, comparative fault refers to the theory that more than one party may be at fault for an accident or injury. This concept allows for the allocation of fault and damages based on the relative negligence of each party involved.

There are two main types of comparative fault: pure comparative fault and modified comparative fault.

Pure Comparative Fault

Under the pure comparative fault rule, a plaintiff can still recover damages even if they are found to be mostly at fault for the accident. The amount of damages they receive will be reduced according to their percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 70% at fault for a car accident and the damages are valued at $100,000, they will only be able to recover $30,000 (since 70% of $100,000 is $70,000).

Modified Comparative Fault

In states that follow the modified comparative fault rule, a plaintiff is only able to recover damages if they are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault, they are not entitled to any damages.

Example 1

Let’s say two drivers, Driver A and Driver B, get into a car accident. Driver A was speeding, but Driver B ran a red light. In a state that follows pure comparative fault, if Driver A is found to be 60% at fault and Driver B is found to be 40% at fault, Driver A can still recover 40% of the damages from Driver B.

Example 2

In a state that follows modified comparative fault, if a pedestrian is hit by a car while jaywalking and is found to be 60% at fault, they would not be able to recover any damages from the driver.

Comparative fault is an important concept in personal injury law as it allows for a fair allocation of fault and damages in cases where multiple parties may have contributed to an accident or injury.

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