An accident is often caused by one person’s negligence. But sometimes figuring out who was at fault is not so easy. Sometimes two or more people caused the accident. What happens if the plaintiff is one of the people to blame for the accident? Does that mean the plaintiff can’t bring a lawsuit? That depends on the law in your state.
Traditionally, under the theory of contributory negligence, a plaintiff’s negligence completely barred the recovery of damages in a lawsuit. Over the years, however, states have adopted some type of comparative negligence theory. Generally, speaking, there are two types of comparative negligence:
- Pure Comparative Negligence. The pure comparative negligence approach provides that the damages a judge or jury awards to the plaintiff are reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault. For example, if the jury awarded the plaintiff $10,000 and found that he or she was 30 percent at fault for the accident, the plaintiff would receive $7,000.
- Modified Comparative Negligence. Many states have adopted a modified comparative negligence approach. Under this theory of comparative negligence, a plaintiff cannot recover if he or she is equally or more responsible for the accident. However, the states differ on how to apply the modified approach. Some states have determined that a plaintiff is barred from recovering if his or her responsibility is 50 percent (equally responsible) or more. Other states have determined that a plaintiff is barred if his or her responsibility is 51 percent (more responsible) or more.
Indiana law has adopted the modified comparative negligence approach, and it uses the equally responsible approach. As a result, if a plaintiff in Indiana is 50 percent or more responsible for the accident, he or she cannot recover for damages.
Were you injured but partially to blame for the accident? Let an Indiana personal injury lawyer sort it out for you.