Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Contributory vs. Comparative Negligence

If you believe that the negligence actions of someone else caused you harm, then you might be considering pursuing a lawsuit for damages. But what if you also had some responsibility in causing this harm? Can you still go forward with the lawsuit? Negligence law can either be contributory or comparative when assessing the responsibility of the injured party, and the law in your state will determine the answer.

If you have been hurt and are considering a lawsuit for negligence in Illinois, you will need a lawyer who understands the law and how it applies to your case. To speak with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence laws dictate that if the injured party is even a little responsible for their injury, then they cannot sue and collect damages against another party whom they believe to be responsible. Even if you are found to barely have contributed to the accident that caused your injury, you cannot sue the other party who was mostly responsible. This type of negligence law results in the party being sued to closely analyze the injured party who is suing them, and to use any possible contributory negligence as a complete defense from having to pay. Contributory negligence can be harsh against an injured person, and it is not the law in most states.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence laws can allow for the injured person to be awarded damages even if partially responsible for the accident. In these cases, it will be determined how much of the accident was the fault of the defendant, and how much was the fault of the injured person who is suing. For example, if you sue someone for negligence and are awarded $100,000, but it is found that you are 20% responsible for the accident, you will only get an $80,000 award.

Comparative negligence is the law in most states, but the details vary. The three different types of comparative negligence laws in the United States are as follows:

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence

    These cases are as simple as the example above. If the suing party is found to be negligent for a certain amount of the accident, then their award is reduced by their share of the negligence. So if you sue someone, and it is found that you are actually 95% responsible for the accident, then you will only get 5% of the damages if you win.

  2. Modified Comparative Negligence (50% bar)

    In these states the injured party will lose the lawsuit and gets nothing if it is determined that they are responsible for 50% or more of the negligence in the accident. If their responsibility is found to be 49% or less, they can then collect damages in the amount of the other party’s share of the responsibility.

  3. Modified Comparative Negligence (51% bar)

    This negligence law is the exact same as the other modified comparative negligence, but negligence cases in these states are dismissed if the injured party is found to be responsible for 51% or more of the negligence which led to the accident. If the two parties in the case are found to be 50-50 responsible for the accident, the injured person can collect damages.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Can Help in Your Comparative Negligence Case

Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state with a 51% bar. This means that the only time you can’t collect damages for an accident caused by negligence is when you are the most at fault party. At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand how Illinois law determines the causation of your accident, and what is the ideal course of action to protect your rights.

An experienced attorney with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. is ready and eager to discuss your negligence claim. Feel free to call us today at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free, initial consultation.