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What is comparative negligence?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2019 | Personal Injury |

You never anticipate suffering a severe injury in Kansas City, which is likely why such accidents are often so debilitating. Not only do you have to deal with the direct physical effects of the injury, but you also are forced to pay with the expenses that come with it. Then there is the potential for an additional financial loss if your injury forces you to take time off work to recuperate (or worse, keeps you from returning to work at all). All of these factors can lead to you facing inordinate expenses. This is typically what prompts people to file personal injury lawsuits

Yet exactly how are damages allocated in such lawsuits? The answer depends on what negligence principle your state applies. One such principle is that of contributory negligence. This legal philosophy assumes that the parties involved in an incident contribute to its outcome. For example, say you are injured in a car accident. If the driver that hit you was speeding, such an action may be said to have contributed to the accident. Yet if you were also not wearing your seat belt, you may also be viewed as having contributed to the injuries you suffered. In states that follow the contributory negligence philosophy, you may be barred from collecting damages in the aforementioned scenario. 

For many years, Missouri did indeed apply the contributory negligence principle in personal injury cases. However, a 1983 Missouri Supreme Court ruling reversed that and prompted the adoption of the comparative negligence philosophy. This states that you are entitled to collect damages relative to the at-fault party’s percentage of fault in a case. If, then, in the previously mentioned car accident scenario, you may collect 90 percent of the damage expenses in your case if the other driver is determined to be 90 percent at fault.