Law

How Can Contributory Negligence be Used in Your Favor in a Car Accident?

Contributory negligence is an exception of modified comparative negligence in the United States, which can be used in your favor in a car accident case. However, it’s important to note that this doctrine is only applied in a few states, and it is considered to be a harsh rule because it doesn’t take into account the degree of fault of the driver. Consult a Huntington car accident lawyer for more details. 

  • Recovery of damages

Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if a driver is found to have contributed to the accident in any way, they will be barred from recovering any damages, even if they were not primarily at fault. For example, if a driver fails to stop at a stop sign and causes an accident with another driver who was also breaking the speed limit, both drivers would be barred from recovering any damages.

However, this doctrine can be used in your favor if the other driver’s actions were more negligent than yours. If the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for example, and you were not, the court may find that their actions were more negligent, and you may still be able to recover damages.

  • Avoiding the accident

Another way that the contributory negligence doctrine can also be used in your favor is by arguing that the other driver had a greater opportunity to avoid the accident. For example, suppose the other driver had a clear view of the intersection, and you did not. In that case, the court may find that they had a greater opportunity to avoid the accident, and you may still be able to recover damages.

It’s also important to note that some states have modified the contributory negligence doctrine to a comparative negligence doctrine, which considers the degree of fault of each driver. In these states, even if you are found to have contributed to the accident, you may still be able to recover damages. However,  the number of damages you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

  • 51% bar rule

In addition, some states have adopted a modified comparative negligence doctrine known as the “51% bar rule.” Under this rule, if a driver is found to be 51% or more at fault, they will be barred from recovering any damages. Still, if the driver is found to be 50% or less at fault, they can recover damages, but the amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them.

It is important to consult with a lawyer if you are involved in a car accident and have questions about how the contributory negligence doctrine or any other exceptions may apply to your case. An attorney can help you understand the laws of your state and determine the best course of action for your case.

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