If you’re facing a lawsuit after a car accident, it’s probably because the other side claims that you were at fault — that is, that you were negligent. “Negligence” is a legal concept tied to the idea that in accidents (and other situations), people have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. When someone fails to meet this duty of care and causes an accident as a result, they may be found negligent and held financially responsible for any resulting injuries or property damage.
But what does it mean for someone else’s negligence? And how do we prove our own?
First off: there are two kinds of negligence that can lead up to lawsuits – contributory and comparative negligence – with each type having its own set of defenses against being found liable on those claims alone (more on those later).
Different state laws
State laws differ in how they treat negligence, however. And in some cases, if the plaintiff was also negligent — meaning careless — then their claim might fail completely. Or perhaps their own negligence will be factored into the equation when damages are calculated.
The legal system in each state varies. In some states, plaintiffs are able to recover damages even when they are partially to blame for accidents. In other states, the defendant who was partially at fault can still recover damages against other defendants who were also partially to blame, as per personal injury lawyer in Cayuga.
In some provinces, contributory negligence is considered an affirmative defense that must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. That means if the plaintiff has been found negligent, his or her case will be dismissed unless it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that he or she would not have contributed to his own injuries had he been less careless than other drivers on the road at the time of impact. In turn, this means that if you’re driving down a two-lane highway with no shoulder and your car hits one car travelling in front of you at high speed then you’re liable for all damage caused by this collision—even though technically only one person was involved.
In contrast, most other states allow contributory negligence as an affirmative defense; meaning that if someone else is found guilty of causing your injury through carelessness while driving then they can’t sue anyone else involved in their own accident—meaning even though you may have contributed some level during these types of incidents (like speeding), there’s nothing legally stopping them from claiming full responsibility for their actions even though it doesn’t apply here due again solely because our legal system views these situations differently than many other jurisdictions across Canada.
The main difference between contributory and comparative negligence lies with proximate causation: was there some direct link between your actions (or inaction) and their impact on your own injuries?
Contributory negligence is a defense to an injury claim. If the plaintiff’s negligence was not a legal cause of the accident, then it cannot be used as a defense against liability. However, if you have been involved in an accident and you believe that someone else’s negligent behavior contributed to your injuries, then this may be grounds for reducing or eliminating damages altogether.