Understanding the Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence

Have you ever been in a car accident and instantly started thinking about whose fault it was? It’s not an uncommon thought to have, particularly because the subject of fault can be influential to receiving money for damages. This ruling of fault comes down to the concept of negligence, and across the country there are two main types of negligence. Nebraska falls under a modified form of one of them, so let’s take a broad look at how negligence contributes to an accident.

Type 1 – Comparative Negligence

Many states use comparative negligence, which examines the contributions of both parties. In the case of a car accident, it wouldn’t matter if you were at fault more than the other person. The only factor that becomes the bottom line is if the other person has some sort of responsibility. Their negligence allows for you to be able to collect for damages, although as your level of fault increases, the opportunity to receive money decreases.

Type 2 – Contributory Negligence

This concept of fault gives a little hint in its title, as it looks at how much you contributed to an accident. Quite the opposite from comparative negligence, contributory negligence stops you from collecting any money in a lawsuit if you had the slightest bit of fault in an accident. Rather than approaching the accident from almost a sliding scale standpoint, you are denied every penny if any of the fault was yours.

What Does Nebraska Do?

Nebraska takes a different approach and utilizes what they call modified comparative negligence. This uses the same concept of examining the fault of each party and then awarding damages based on the amount of fault, but includes a little twist.

Nebraska abides by the 50% rule, so it requires the other party to be at least 50% responsible for a car accident in order for you to receive any damages. These damages can be for physical repairs to your vehicle or for medical bills as a result of injuries you sustained. Additionally, you could receive compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the accident.

Comparing the Two

In reality, both types of negligence rulings examine where the fault lies after an auto accident, but they award damages in very different ways. Under contributory negligence, as the victim, you will receive some money, but only in proportion to how much of the accident was another person’s fault. With contributory negligence, you can only receive compensation if you had zero fault. Nebraska allows for compensation, but only if the other party is responsible for more than half of the fault.

If you’ve been in an auto accident and need representation, contact Inkelaar Law today. We will fight for your rights and help you to receive the compensation you deserve.

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Written by Inkelaar Law