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How do you know whether or not you are responsible for contributory negligence if you’re involved in an accident, and what does it mean?  The law states that you may not recover any damages if you are even 1-percent at fault in an accident.

For example, if a speeder runs a red light and hits a pedestrian, it might seem like a slam-dunk case. The driver was breaking the law by speeding, and in the process hits someone crossing the street. However, if the pedestrian was not using the crosswalk, then he or she is also at fault.

In this case, the court could rule that both parties are at fault and reward no damages to either party. Even though, in this case, the degrees of negligence don’t seem equal at all – a court may rule that since both parties were breaking the law – both contributed to the accident.

Because this may end in unfair results for one party, most states now use a comparative negligence test when judging the degree to which one party or the other is more responsible. With this test, the relative percentages of negligence by each person are used to determine how much the injured person recovers in damages.

This is known as comparative negligence, where the injured party may still recover some damages even if the person was partially to blame for causing the accident.

Here is an example: Mary and John are in a car accident where Mary is found to be 99-percent responsible.  The jury determines that Mary suffered $10-thousand in damages. That award could be reduced by Mary’s 99-percent fault in causing her injuries. In the end, John would have to pay only 1-percent of Mary’s damages, or $100 in this case.

If you have questions about an accident case you’re unsure about, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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