FAQ: What Does Comparative Negligence Mean?
When negotiating a settlement after an injury accident, either in direct talks or in the courts, you’re likely to hear the term comparative negligence. This is a legal concept in which fault is assigned in percentages according to how much each party contributed to the accident (“negligence,” by definition). This percentage can reduce the amount of your settlement. To illustrate: If the other driver rear-ended you in traffic but one of your brake lights was out, the defendant’s attorney could contend that you were partially negligent because his client would have had a more difficult time seeing your car. If the argument holds, you might be assigned 30 percent of the fault while the defendant is assigned 70 percent, effectively resulting in a settlement that is 30 percent less than if the other driver were completely at fault.