Legal Definition for Contributory Negligence
States that follow comparative negligence rules can be divided into two categories: contributory negligence is a legal norm that prevents an aggrieved plaintiff from claiming damages from the defendant if he or she contributed in any way to his or her injury. In states that follow a contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff who blames even one percent for his injuries cannot succeed in an action for damages against another party. Most states don`t follow codebt laws, but Virginia is one of the few states that does. In some jurisdictions, such as the federal courts in the United States, contributory negligence must be invoked as a positive defense in the defendant`s response to the claim.  In some jurisdictions, however, it may be used by the tort court, whether or not it has been invoked as a defence.  Christy Bieber is a legal and personal finance writer with over a decade of experience. She received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law and was an adjunct professor, teaching paralegal studies and related courses early in her career. In addition to writing for the Internet, she has also designed educational courses and written textbooks focused on a variety of legal topics. Nevertheless, the doctrine of comparative negligence is still followed in Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina. Contributory negligence, legally a behavior that contributes to one`s own injury or loss and does not meet the standard of precaution that one should observe for one`s own well-being.
Contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff is often invoked to defend against the allegation of negligence. Sometimes it is possible to prove negligence by other means. For example, negligence per se is a legal doctrine that a particular act is considered negligent if it violates a law or regulation. If a driver drives a vehicle while impaired, it is against the law. Under the actual negligence rules, no additional evidence would be required to prove negligence if a driver was drunk when he caused an accident. This defence makes it difficult for plaintiffs to obtain compensation for damages. For this reason, most states no longer apply contributory negligence, but use rules for comparative negligence. Contributory negligence is the claimant`s failure to take reasonable steps for his or her safety. A plaintiff is the party who brings an action against another party (the defendant). Contributory negligence can prevent recovery or reduce the amount of compensation a claimant receives if their actions have increased the likelihood of an incident. Defendants often use contributory negligence as a defence. In the case of contributory negligence, a defendant may avoid liability for losses if the plaintiff is also jointly and severally liable for the damage suffered.
The contributory negligence rules may apply to any claim for personal injury resulting from the negligence of a defendant. Common examples of where a defendant could raise a contributory negligence defence: Remember that contributory negligence prevents a plaintiff from receiving compensation from a defendant if the plaintiff is jointly liable for the injury. But in a comparative state of negligence, this is not the case. However, in a co-indebted state like Virginia, the driver who ran a red light and his attorney simply have to find a way to hold the other driver responsible for the crash by one percent in order to avoid liability for the damage. n. a common law doctrine that if a person was partially injured by his or her own negligence (his or her negligence “contributed” to the accident), the injured party would not be entitled to claim damages (money) from another party who allegedly caused the accident. According to this rule, a seriously injured person who acted only slightly negligently could not win in court against a very negligent defendant. If Joe Tosspot drove drunk and too fast and Angela Comfort 25 mph but six inches above the center line, Angela would likely be excluded from any recovery (money for injury or damage) from a car accident. Possible unfair outcomes have led some jurors to ignore the rule, and in recent decades most states have introduced a comparative negligence test, which uses the relative percentages of each person`s negligence to determine damages (how much money would be paid to the injured person).
For example, suppose a construction worker exposed to prolonged exposure to asbestos develops lung cancer. Subsequently, they die and their families sue their employer for failing to apply proper safety measures in accordance with industry standards. The defendant alleges contributory negligence that the deceased employee smoked 10 packs of unfiltered cigarettes per day for more than 20 years, which could have caused or contributed to his cancer. After establishing fault and awarding damages, the court reduced the amount payable by the defendant due to the plaintiff`s negligence in lung cancer protection. In a tort case, the determination of negligence is decisive because: The classic version of contributory negligence, in which a plaintiff who is even 0.01% negligent is excluded from the assertion, is now called “pure contributory negligence”.  Some states have introduced a “modified” or “mixed” version of contributory negligence, where the claimant is only excluded from compensation if he or she was guilty of more than a certain percentage (usually more than 50% guilty of his or her own injury).  The doctrine of comparative negligence is an alternative to contributory negligence.