You have probably heard about negligence as it applies to personal injury lawsuits. It’s the intentional or careless act of causing harm to another by not providing care or by being reckless. Caregivers that are sued as a result of ignoring their patients or charges are frequently sued for negligence. However, negligence can play a part in accident injuries as well, and it’s important to understand how these other types of negligence are defined under the law.
Making the mistake to sue for personal injury when there’s the likelihood that you contributed to your own accidental harm results in no compensation. Usually, a good lawyer will see that a personal injury case involves contributory negligence and steer a potential client away from attempting to sue the other party. A client can still choose to sue, but if the judge does see any contributory negligence, the client won’t see a dime and will have to pay a lot of legal fees on top of their injury-related expenses.
An example of contributory negligence is seeing a wet floor with no cautionary sign posted but choosing to run across the wet floor anyway. Falling is the result of running across the wet floor. You blame the store or wherever you saw the wet floor for not posting a cautionary sign.
You could have avoided the personal injuries by walking around or walking past carefully, but instead you ran over the wet floor and fell. The resulting injuries to your head, body, legs, arms, etc., is on you and the business that had the wet floor and failed to post a sign. You were not cautious, and therefore the judge decides that you contributed to your situation. You get nothing in the lawsuit, despite the fact that the business failed to post a caution sign.
Comparative negligence is placing blame and finding fault to determine what someone is actually entitled to in terms of compensation. Between the police reports and the hearing before a judge, fault and blame for an accident is weighed. An injured party can sue for all possible sums and types of compensation, but ultimately, they will only be paid for the percentage of fault as determined by the judge.
If the judge determines that the accident was 75% the other party and 25% the suing party, the suing party can only get the 75% the judge says is fair and right. Conversely, if the judge determines that both parties are 50/50 at fault or close to 50/50, nothing is awarded. So again, a lawsuit could result in no compensation for the suing party. It sits on the judge’s shoulders to decide.
An example of most comparative negligence personal injury cases is a car and pedestrian accident. The driver of the car was negligent as they failed to notice a pedestrian at a crossing and didn’t stop. Is the pedestrian to blame for crossing? Some might argue that a pedestrian that is paying attention would be able to stop crossing and not be hit by the driver. Others would argue that both are at fault equally. The pedestrian is injured and sues the driver of the automobile that hit the pedestrian and the judge decides who gets what.
Know Your State
Certain states practice comparative and/or contributory negligence law. It helps to know if your state practices these types of negligence law. In Nevada, contributory law isn’t a thing. However, Nevada does observe modified comparative negligence, with is modified form of pure comparative negligence. Those suing for personal injury in the state of Nevada should be prepared to receive only that which the judge determines was the fault of the other party based on a percentage system.
You should always hire a lawyer when you think that you have a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence. It’s a complicated and nuanced process under modified comparative negligence, and only the lawyer can help you sort it out in court. You may not even get to court if something amenable can be worked out before going to court, but it’s difficult to admit any level of fault when you’re hurt and hurting. Hire a lawyer for your case as soon as you are able.