Comparative Negligence: Striking a Balance in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases have the potential to be emotionally charged. This is due in large part to the catastrophic damage an accident from a vehicular crash or slip and fall can cause. In some circumstances, multiple parties may share some degree of fault, which impacts the amount of compensation awarded to an injured party. Michigan uses the principle of comparative negligence to determine which party is at fault and what percentage they are responsible for paying. Understanding the effect comparative negligence has on personal injury claims may influence how you travel.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal principle used in personal injury cases to assign responsibility and determine the amount of compensation a plaintiff is entitled to receive. For example, if someone is found to be 25% at fault for an accident, their total compensation may be reduced by 25%. Unlike some states that follow a strict contributory negligence system (where a plaintiff can be barred from recovering damages if they are found even slightly at fault), Michigan employs a modified comparative negligence rule.

Modified comparative negligence usually has a threshold of 51%. That means that an injured party can only recover damages if their percentage of fault is 50% or less. Any more than that and they are barred from recovering any damages, and technically are considered “at fault” for the accident.

Breaking Down the Specifics of Comparative Negligence

There are several ways comparative negligence can affect the outcome of a personal injury case. Here are some examples: 

Determining Fault – In personal injury cases, the court will assess the actions of all parties involved to determine the percentage of fault each party bears for the accident. This process involves analyzing evidence, witness testimonies, and expert opinions to establish an assessment. Working with an attorney as soon as possible will be essential in representing your side of the incident fairly.

Compensation – Once fault percentages are determined, the court will apply comparative negligence to calculate the amount of compensation the injured party can receive. The plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault and awarded $10,000 in damages, their final compensation would be reduced to $8,000.

Role of Legal Representation – The concept of comparative negligence adds complexity to personal injury cases, leading to debates and challenges from both plaintiffs and defendants. It is important to enlist the help of a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that they will help you gather evidence and build a strong case to advocate for the best possible outcome. 

Getting the Justice You Deserve

The introduction of comparative negligence in personal injury cases serves to promote fairness and ensure that compensation is proportionate to each party’s level of responsibility. By considering the contributions of all parties involved, the court aims to strike a balanced resolution that reflects the reality of accidents and avoids overburdening any single party with excessive liability. As a result, drivers must become vigilant in following all applicable traffic laws to avoid being assigned fault.

To protect your best interests, seeking the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney is essential. At the law firm of Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C., we are dedicated to guiding you through the claims process and achieving the highest possible payout. If you or a loved one has been a victim of someone else’s negligence, call our office at (844) 835-2993 to fight for the compensation you deserve. 

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Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C.

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