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How Contributory Negligence Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

Filing a successful personal injury claim results in the compensation you need to recover from your injuries, loss of income, property damage, and other losses.

Establishing negligence allows you to hold guilty parties responsible. But negligence and guilt aren’t always exclusive to one party.

Some plaintiffs may be held partly liable for their injuries due to their share in causing an accident to occur.

Contributory negligence must be fully understood if you want to achieve the resolution you want and obtain the compensation you deserve.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is the shared negligence between parties involved in a legal dispute. Many plaintiffs in personal injury cases face contributory negligence charges from their defendants.

This allows defendants to claim that the plaintiff also contributed to an accident and the resulting injuries. Plaintiffs found to be partly negligent under contributory negligence rules may disqualify them from receiving any compensation.

Failure to demonstrate the necessary care for one’s own safety can lead to a wide range of injuries. As a result, insurance companies and court judges may have legal grounds for barring the plaintiff from recovering any losses.

Consulting with a personal injury attorney who understands the impact that contributory negligence can have on your case will protect you from the claims of a defendant.

Unlike comparative negligence, which results in a reduction of the compensation you receive, contributory negligence rules prevent you from obtaining any compensation altogether.

Knowing the difference and using the right legal strategy for your case may prevent you from suffering further financial losses.

Establishing Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

The defendant in a personal injury case must demonstrate three elements in order to establish contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

Under Georgia law, defendants carry the burden of proof in demonstrating that the plaintiff contributed to the accident and injuries they sustained.

The following are the three elements that must be demonstrated to the courts:

  1. Plaintiff was fully aware of the dangers involved.
  2. Those risks where fully understood and appreciated.
  3. Plaintiff voluntarily put himself or herself at risk.

Actual and specific knowledge must be demonstrated. But plaintiffs may not be held accountable for known risks if they agreed to those risks in order to comply with a specific policy such as in cases involving informed consent to medical treatments.

The inability to recover losses due to contributory negligence has caused many courts to favor comparative negligence rules in personal injury cases. This allows plaintiffs to recover some portion of compensation in direct proportion to their share of negligence.

But even in cases that include comparative negligence claims, the plaintiff may not receive any compensation if their share of negligence is 50 percent or more.

Getting Compensated Even When You Share Negligence

Contributory negligence may cause you to lose out on the compensation you need to recover from your injuries, cover medical and other expenses, and make up for any loss of income or earning capacity.

The relationship between both parties can determine if contributory negligence claims may be used in a given case. Courts consider the relationships between employers and workers, parents and their children, and spouses among many others.

Georgia personal injury cases typically view shared negligence under the rules of comparative, rather than contributory, negligence.

The ability to prevent a plaintiff from recovering any compensation has been increasingly viewed as unfair. Comparative negligence allows the courts to determine how much negligence is shared by each party and adjust any compensation accordingly.

You may face a contributory negligence claim in your personal injury case. But your attorney will help you understand the legal options you have in order to achieve the outcome you want.

Getting compensated for your injuries is the first step in achieving a full recovery, protecting the financial wellbeing of you and your family, and making sure that others are held accountable for your injuries.