When it comes to slip and fall cases, one must ask themselves: Who is responsible for my injury? Each year, thousands of people are involved in these accidents and may injure themselves quite seriously. In some cases, it may be quite difficult to determine liability. To be legally responsible, one of the following must be true: The owner of the premises must have caused the spill, must have known of the dangerous surface but did nothing about it, or should have known of the dangerous surface because a reasonable person taking care of the property would have discovered and removed or repaired it.
When negligence comes into play, there is a lot to be considered. One thing to consider is comparative negligence, what it is, and how it works. Comparative negligence applies to whether the plaintiff was negligent in connection with the underlying accident, because sometimes, your own carelessness may have contributed to the accident. How did it get this name? It is “comparative” because, when it’s time for the jury to weight the evidence at trial, they must compare the plaintiff’s negligence with the defendant’s negligence. The person being sued must prove that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent, but the plaintiff does not need to prove that they were not negligent.
So how does it work, exactly? The victim’s comparative negligence is only determined after it determines whether the defendant was negligent. If the jury finds that the defendant was not negligent in the specific slip and fall case, the case ends right there. If the jury does find that the defendant was negligent, then it will also consider whether or not the plaintiff was also being negligent. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the plaintiff’s comparative negligence will reduce the amount of the plaintiff’s verdict by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
What Types of Comparative Negligence Are There?
- Pure: Pure comparative negligence is followed only in a handful of states. With this negligence, the plaintiff’s verdict is reduced by his or her percentage of fault. If the plaintiff was 70% at fault, the defendant was then 30% at fault, and the jury would award the plaintiff $100,000 in damages. The plaintiff’s verdict would then be reduced to $30,000.
- Modified: Under this system, the plaintiff’s fault cannot be more than the defendant’s fault in order for the plaintiff to recover any compensation. If negligence is seen as 50/50, then the plaintiff can still win in most of these states. However, some states will require that the plaintiff’s fault be less than that of the defendant.
Where Contributory Negligence Comes Into Play
Some states still follow the contributory negligence rules, though it is more rare. In these states, there can be harsh outcomes for the personal injury plaintiffs because the plaintiff loses if he or she was even the slightest bit negligent in connection with the accident or injury. Even in a case where the plaintiff was 1% at fault for the injury, the plaintiff will still get nothing!
Negligence can sometimes be hard to determine, and for this reason it is best to have an attorney that you trust working on your side. Call WTW today to schedule a consultation and get a review of your case. They will be able to explain the rules of comparative negligence to you and how it may apply to your case.