Serious Personal Injuries

Modified comparative negligence is a legal concept used in tort law to assign fault and determine damages in cases where more than one party is responsible for an accident or injury. This legal doctrine is used in several states in the United States according to our friends at Woron and Dhillion, LLC.

Under modified comparative negligence, a plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributable to them. In other words, if the plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for the accident, their damages will be reduced proportionately. For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault and the total damages are $100,000, their recovery will be reduced by 20%, or $20,000, and they will receive $80,000 in damages.

However, there is a threshold limit under modified comparative negligence, which varies by state. In some states, if the plaintiff’s fault exceeds a certain percentage, typically 50%, they are barred from recovering any damages at all. This is known as the “50% bar rule.” In other states, the threshold limit is 51%, meaning that if the plaintiff is found to be more than 51% at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

Modified comparative negligence is often contrasted with pure comparative negligence, which allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they are found to be 99% at fault. This is in stark contrast to contributory negligence which bars a plaintiff from recovery even if they are only 1% at fault. Modified comparative negligence is seen as a compromise between pure comparative negligence and contributory negligence, which bars a plaintiff from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault.

One of the benefits of modified comparative negligence is that it allows for a more nuanced and fair allocation of fault and damages. In cases where multiple parties are responsible for an accident, it is often difficult to determine the exact percentage of fault attributable to each party. Modified comparative negligence allows for a more flexible and equitable approach to this issue.

Another benefit of modified comparative negligence is that it encourages plaintiffs to take responsibility for their own actions and reduce their own risks. By reducing their own fault, plaintiffs can increase their potential recovery and ensure that they are fairly compensated for their injuries.

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to modified comparative negligence. One criticism is that it can be complex and difficult to apply in practice, particularly in cases where there are multiple parties involved. Additionally, the threshold limits can create arbitrary and unfair results, particularly if the plaintiff is only slightly over the threshold limit and therefore barred from recovering any damages.

Overall, modified comparative negligence is an important legal doctrine that plays an important role in assigning fault and determining damages in tort cases. While it has its benefits and drawbacks, it remains a widely-used and accepted approach in many states across the United States.

If you have questions about your case and modified comparative negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer near you for help.