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Minneapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

Comparing Contributory and Comparative Negligence

Injury Compensation Lawyer

Minnesota follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence in personal injury claims. This means that in an accident, fault may be apportioned to various parties to determine their eligibility for recovering compensation. To be sure, a plaintiff may recover in a negligence action as long as the plaintiff is not more than 50 percent at fault. However, if the plaintiff is 51 percent at fault, he is barred from recovering. The amount the plaintiff can recover in damages is also lessened by his portion of fault. If you are involved in an accident and suffered injuries, seek counsel from an experienced personal injury lawyer. Gunther Law Office can help you determine what (if any) percentage of fault was yours.

Pure Contributory Negligence

At common law, contributory negligence was a defense in tort claims. The plaintiff would only be able to recover if he did not in anyway contribute to the accident. For example, if the plaintiff was 8 percent at fault and the defendant was 92 percent at fault, the plaintiff would not be able to recover any damages because he was partially (8 percent) at fault for the accident’s occurrence. This method of calculation is known as the pure contributory negligence system and it is still followed in some states today.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In a comparative negligence system, the plaintiff may recover some reward for his damages even if he was at partially at fault. Under pure comparative negligence each responsible party is assigned a percentage of fault by the court. The plaintiff may recover even if he is significantly at fault but the amount he recovers will be reduced based on his percentage of fault. If the plaintiff is 80 percent at fault and the defendant is 20 percent at fault, the plaintiff’s award is reduced 80 percent because the plaintiff was found to be 80 percent responsible.

Modified Comparative Fault – 50 percent

Each responsible party is assigned a percentage of fault by the judge or jury and the damage awards are also adjusted accordingly. There are two systems of modified comparative negligence: 50 percent and 51 percent. Under the 50 percent rule a plaintiff can only recover if the court determines he is 49 percent or less at fault in causing the accident. If the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent at fault he is barred from any recovery.

Modified Comparative Fault – 51 percent                

This is the same concept as 50 percent rule except the plaintiff only recovers if he was less than 51 percent at fault. If the plaintiff was 50 percent at fault he would still be able to recover damages.

Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney

The percentage of fault of each party is very important because it determines if any damages will be awarded and if so, how much. These are questions a Minneapolis personal injury attorney can answer. Even if you think you were at fault in the accident, still consult with an attorney at the Gunther Law Office. Your initial consultation is free so it does not hurt to get some advice. Proving the percentage of fault is not a simple formula. Let us provide you the best defense so you can recover what is rightfully yours.


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