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What does “modified comparative negligence” mean?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2019 | Personal Injury

Following a Georgia car accident, you may wish to pursue compensation from the “at fault” party, but what does fault mean? While you may think the term is straightforward — either someone caused the accident or not — states have different views of what constitutes as fault and what does not. In general, states abide by one of three different sets of fault rules: Contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. According to FindLaw, Georgia has a modified comparative negligence system. 

In the four states and District of Columbia that still utilize a traditional contributory negligence system, accident victims may not recover any compensation if the defendant can establish that the plaintiff is even 1% at fault for the incident. In an attempt to reduce the harsh and often unfair outcomes of this approach, the remaining 46 states did away with contributory negligence and instead adopted comparative negligence systems. 

One approach to comparative negligence is pure comparative negligence. In states that use this approach, plaintiffs may recover compensation so long as the percentage of fault they assume remains at 99% or below. However, the courts will reduce the award by the said percentage of fault. For instance, if a plaintiff sues the defendant for $10,000 and the courts determine he or she was 90% to blame for the accident, he or she may collect $1,000 of the award. 

In many ways, the pure comparative negligence approach is also unfair, hence the introduction of the modified comparative negligence approach. In this approach, a plaintiff may recover compensation so long as he or she shares less blame than the defendant. The courts bar recovery when the share of fault reaches 50%. Like in pure comparative negligence states, the courts reduce the monetary award by the percentage of fault an accident victim shares. 

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only. 

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