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Contributory Negligence Standards

Contributory Negligence: A minority of states have maintained the common law defense of contributory negligence. Its significance to automobile accident liability is that individuals cannot sue another for injuries or damages if they also contributed to the accident by his or their own negligence. For example, if they are making a left-hand turn in their vehicle and are struck by an oncoming vehicle that is traveling 10 mph over the speed limit, they cannot sue the motorist for damages if they failed to have their turn signal on and the speeding motorist did not know that they were going to turn in front of them. Under such a theory, their own negligence contributed to the accident, and, therefore, bars their right to recover from the other motorist. This situation is referred to as “pure contributory negligence.” Some states have maintained a version referred to as “modified contributory negligence” in which individuals may file suit against another tortfeasor only if their own negligence contributed to the accident by less than 50 percent.

Inside Contributory Negligence Standards