There are different schools of thought when it comes to determining which party can claim for damages in an accident. Pure Contributory Fault follows harsh rules that make it difficult for plaintiffs to claim for damages if they are at all responsible. On the other end of the spectrum is Pure Comparative Fault, which allows a plaintiff who was almost entirely to blame for an accident, to claim for damages. Somewhere in the middle lies Modified Comparative Law, which is used by 33 states and aims to find a fair balance between the two schools of thought.
Pure Contributory Fault
Pure Contributory Fault is a doctrine of common law that states that a plaintiff who was injured in an accident but also partly responsible, would not be entitled to collect any damages against the at-fault party. Following this rule, a person who was injured but also 10% responsible, could not successfully collect damages against an extremely negligent defendant. This rule is especially harsh for slightly negligent victims and has led many states to move away from the practice and move toward a Comparative Fault rule.
Under Pure Contributory Law, if the victim or plaintiff in an accident is even 1% responsible for the accident, they cannot collect damages against the defendant. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff had the ability to avoid the accident at any point, the plaintiff will be unlikely to recover damages. This is uncommon and only used in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. Ultimately, if you are at all responsible for an accident, you cannot be compensated for any damages.
Pure Comparative Fault
Comparative Fault is a tort rule that aims to allocate damages proportionately when multiple parties are at fault to some degree. In the event that the defendant is 60% responsible for an accident while the plaintiff is 40% responsible, a jury could rule that each party pays their share of the other’s damages. In this scenario the defendant would pay 60% of the plaintiff’s damages and the plaintiff would pay 40% of the defendant’s damages.
Under the Pure Comparative Fault Rule, a damaged party may recover even if they are 99% at fault for the accident. The recovery will be dramatically reduced based on the party’s degree of fault. States that follow this rule include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington.
Modified Comparative Fault
There are 33 states that recognize the Modified Comparative Fault Rule in the United States. Of those 33 states, twelve states follow a 50% bar rule while twenty-one states follow a 51% bar rule.
50% Bar Rule
In the states that follow a 50% Bar Rule, a damaged party cannot recover if they are 50% or more at fault. If they are 49% at fault, they can recover, but the recovery will be reduced proportionally based on their degree of fault. These states include: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
51% Bar Rule
There are 21 states that follow a 51% Bar Rule under Modified Comparative Fault. Under this rule, the plaintiff cannot recover if it is 51% or more at fault for an accident. The main difference between this rule and the 50% bar rule above is that this rule allows a plaintiff who is 50% responsible to claim for damages. The claim for damages will be reduced by their own percentage of negligence. If the plaintiff is 51% responsible, they cannot claim for damages. The states that follow this rule include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
While each state can be sorted into a certain rule pertaining to negligence, each state is different and has their own take on the law. Some states may have exceptions to rules that other states do not. Because of these small nuances in law, it is especially important to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable and understands the laws in their state of practice.
Personal Injury Lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada
If you have been injured in an accident in Nevada it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Due to the complex laws in Nevada, trying to navigate through the aftermath of an accident without an attorney can be very difficult. At Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers we provide free legal consultations if you’ve been in an accident. Call us today at (702) 384-1414 for a free consultation.