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What is comparative negligence? P.1

Last time, we began looking at the various elements an accident victim must prove in a motor vehicle accident claim. As we noted, proving breach of duty can be done a number of ways, depending on the circumstances of the case. We wanted to speak briefly about the element of causation, which can become complicated in some motor vehicle accident cases.

The idea behind the causation requirement is that the plaintiff, the accident victim, must prove that it was the defendant’s breach of duty that specifically caused the plaintiff’s injury rather than some other cause. The general requirement is that a plaintiff must prove proximate causation. The courts have used different language to test for this requirement, but the central idea is that the plaintiff must demonstrate a sufficient causal relationship between the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injury. 

There are various circumstances that can diminish causation in a motor vehicle accident case, such as the negligence of other motorists, the influence of outside circumstances and factors, and even the plaintiff’s own negligent behavior. The latter is a particularly important issue for plaintiff’s to be aware of, since it can impact their ability to successfully pursue a claim. This is often called comparative negligence.

Different states have different approaches to comparative negligence. Most states recognize some form of “modified” comparative negligence, which prevents a plaintiff from recovering damages if he or she is found to be a certain percentage at fault for his or her injuries. In our next post, we’ll look at the approach used here in Kentucky, and the importance of working with an experienced attorney.