What is the Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence?

Every state has its own type of negligence laws and while most follow comparative negligence laws, Virginia is one of the few states that still observes contributory negligence laws. There is a huge difference between the two types of negligence laws and the outcome of a personal injury claim can be drastically affected by which type of laws are applied.

Virginia, along with 3 other states and the District of Columbia, follow contributory negligence laws. These are laws that date back to the days of English rule and allow an injured person to recover damages only if they did not contribute to the accident in any way. This means you cannot be found even 1% at fault for the accident in order to receive compensation.

The other states follow some form of comparative negligence, either pure or modified 50% or 51% bar rule. Comparative negligence allows both parties to be found at fault and any compensation that is awarded is determined based on the degree of fault. In a pure comparative negligence case the injured party may be found up to 99% at fault and still collect 1% of the compensation awarded. In other words, unless you are 100% responsible for the accident and your injuries, you may still file a claim against the other party.

Modified comparative negligence states create a threshold for the degree of fault, either 50% or 51%. This means that you may be found either 49% or 50% responsible for your injuries and accident before the claim is deemed invalid. Remember that in a valid personal injury claim your settlement is decreased by your degree of fault. If you were awarded $100,000 in a comparative negligence state and you were found 20% negligent, you would recover only $80,000.

Understanding the various negligence laws is important when considering filing a personal injury claim. Especially with the strict Virginia negligence laws, you may find it difficult to build and support your claim without the help of an experienced Fairfax personal injury attorney. 

Contacting a Fairfax Personal Injury Attorney

You don't have to deal with insurance companies and hospitals alone when you're looking to file a Virginia personal injury claim. Fairfax personal injury attorney Ben Glass fights to help victims in the Virginia and D.C. areas settle their personal injury claims.

Before you go any further with your decision, order a copy of my free guide to Virginia personal injury claims, Five Deadly Sins That Can Wreck Your Injury Claim. To set up a free consultation, contact the team at BenGlassLaw at (703) 584-7277.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney
1 Comments
Was just studying the difference between contributory and comparative negligence in my business law undergrad class, and I was curious on what ground the state of VA (where I reside) stood specifically. My textbook noted that few states rely on contributory negligence. Thanks for answering my question.
by Hunter February 21, 2017 at 12:48 PM
Post a Comment