Contributory fault occurs when a plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) is partially at fault for their injury. In many cases, contributory fault can reduce or even bar a plaintiff from recovering damages.
Therefore, knowing what contributory fault is, how it’s proven, the different types of contributory fault, and how you can still recover damages although you’re partially at fault can help you considerably in your personal injury case. Our San Diego personal injury attorneys are here to provide you with the guidance that you need.
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What Is Contributory Fault?
Contributory fault, also known as comparative fault or contributory negligence, is a legal concept that assigns responsibility for a negligent act to multiple parties. This means that if someone is injured due to another person’s negligence, that person may be held partially responsible for their own injuries if they have contributed to them in some way.
Contributory fault is a defense against a negligence claim used to reduce the value of damages owed to an injured party.
In general, contributory fault can be established by proving that the injured party acted negligently or was reckless in some way, either by doing something dangerous or failing to do something that could have prevented the injury.
For example, if someone gets into an accident and it’s found that the injured party was not wearing a seatbelt, this could be considered a contributory fault. In such cases, the other party’s negligence is still considered the primary cause of the accident. Still, the injured party’s failure to take preventative measures may reduce their compensation.
How Is Contributory Fault Proven?
Contributory fault is typically proven through the presentation of evidence by either the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil action depending on the type of personal injury case. The evidence presented must show that the plaintiff was at least partially responsible for their own injury or losses.
In most cases, it is up to the court or jury to decide whether the plaintiff’s actions (or lack thereof) amounted to contributory fault.
If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their injuries or losses, they can recover some of their damages despite being partially at fault. This is known as comparative negligence or apportionment of fault.
Under this doctrine, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by an amount equal to the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 25% at fault for their injuries, they would only be able to recover 75% of their damages.
What Are the Types of Contributory Fault?
Depending on the specific circumstances, contributory fault can be assessed differently when building your personal injury case.
There are three main types of contributory fault: primary, secondary, and concurrent fault.
- Primary Fault: Primary fault is when a person or party is entirely at fault for an incident. This type of fault applies when a person or party is primarily responsible for causing the injury or accident. For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits another car, the driver would be considered at primary fault.
- Secondary Fault: Secondary fault is when a person or party is partially at fault for an incident. It applies when two or more parties share some responsibility for the incident.
- Concurrent Fault: Concurrent fault is when two or more parties are equally at fault for an incident. This fault applies when both parties are equally responsible for causing the injury or accident. For example, if two drivers run a stop sign and collide, they would both be considered at concurrent fault.
It’s important to note that contributory fault is not always assigned to someone involved in an incident. In some cases, it may be determined that no one was at fault, and contributory fault will not apply.
When contributory fault does apply, it’s important to understand how the different types can affect your potential recovery of damages. Depending on the type of contributory fault, you may be able to recover some damages despite being partially at fault for an incident.
How Can You Recover Damages If You’re Found Partially at Fault?
If you are found partially at fault for an accident, it can be difficult to recover damages from the other party. Generally speaking, and depending on what state your case is in, if you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you will not be able to recover anything from the other party. However, if you are found to be less than 50% at fault, you can seek compensation.
In most cases, the compensation you will receive will be proportional to your degree of fault. So, if you are found to be 30% at fault, you may only be able to recover 70% of the damages. This system is known as “comparative negligence” and is used in many states when determining a settlement or verdict in a civil case.
If you are in an accident and found partially at fault, you must remember that there may still be avenues for recovery. While you may not be able to recover the full amount of your damages, you could still receive some compensation for your losses.
To learn more about comparative negligence and how it affects your right to seek compensation after an accident, it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney.
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