Comparative Negligence Legal Definition

What is Comparative Negligence?” 

Call Our Lawyers for Legal Help: 800-392-4529


  • Comparative Negligence
Comparative Negligence Legal Definition

Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyers & award-winning Personal Injury attorneys in Pittsburgh, PA.
© Pribanic & Pribanic

Comparative Negligence legal definition: Comparative negligence is a type of legal defense that compares a plaintiff’s contributory negligence to that of the defendant. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence statute, damages in legal cases are reduced in proportion to the degree in which a plaintiff is negligent. 

For example, if you were injured in a car accident and you were deemed 25 percent negligent, the legal compensation you collect will be reduced by 25 percent. 

A fact-finder (generally a judge or jury) decides the percentage of liability for both the defendant and the plaintiff. 

Tell Us What Happened: 800-392-4529


Tell Us What Happened



Comparative Negligence and Car Accident Injury Cases

If you’ve been injured in a car accident because of the negligence of another driver, your ability to recover legal compensation will be largely based on whether you can prove that they were liable.

Comparative negligence is used as a partial legal defense in most car accident injury cases – especially those in which both parties are at least partially to blame for the incident. 

For example, comparative negligence would come into play if you were seriously injured after you made an illegal turn at an intersection and were struck by a tractor trailer that ran a red light. In such cases, a fact finder – generally a mediator, judge or jury – will determine each parties level of liability.

While most states use comparative negligence when determining fault in car accident injury cases, rules on how it affects a victim’s ability to recover legal compensation differ. Generally there are two types of comparative negligence:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence
    In states that use a pure comparative negligence system, a victim’s damages is reduced by the percentage by which they were deemed to be at fault for the accident. For example, a car accident injury victim found to be 25 percent liable would recover only $75,000 of a $100,000 award. New York and California are among the states that utilize a pure comparative negligence system.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence
    As a general rules, states that use a modified comparative negligence system allow car accident injury victims to recover personal injury damages, but only if they are less than 50 percent at fault. It should be noted that in Pennsylvania, an injury victim must be less than 60 percent liable in order to recover legal damages. This means that a car accident injury victim who was deemed to be 59 percent liable would recover $41,000 of a $100,000 award. A victim who was deemed to be 60 liable would be able to recover nothing. 

Understanding the rules related to comparative negligence could meant the difference between recovering the legal compensation you deserve for your injuries and, in some cases, getting nothing for your pain. Hiring an experienced car accident injury attorney will ensure the best-possible outcome in your case.


Comparative Negligence and Medical Malpractice Cases

In some medical malpractice cases, an injured patient’s ability to recover legal compensation can be reduced or sometimes even eliminated because of their own negligence. That’s because most malpractice cases allege that a doctor or medical provider failed to use the proper standard of care when providing treatment. 

To defend these types of claims, the doctor or healthcare provider will claim the patient’s own negligence:

  • Caused the injury
  • Contributed to the injury or
  • Prevented recovery

A patient could be considered comparatively negligent if they:

  • Provided false or misleading information related to their health history
  • Failed to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions
  • Lied about the nature, cause, or other key details of the injury or illness
  • Participated in activities that exacerbated their injury or illness

If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to understand how comparative negligence could possible impact your ability to successfully recover the legal compensation you deserve. It’s important to seek the advice of a skilled medical malpractice attorney before proceeding.


Comparative Negligence and Personal Injury Cases

One of the cornerstones in any personal injury case is: Who is liable for the injury? In many cases, the person who has been injured is at least partially to blame for the accident that hurt them. In these cases, comparative negligence must be determined.

There are two types of comparative negligence in personal injury cases: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence, and each state adopts their own rules.

Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative negligence system. That means:

  • Person may recover personal injury damages if it is deemed that they were no more than 60 percent at fault
  • The injury victim’s financial recovery will be reduced by the percent they were liable. A plaintiff who was determined to be 10 percent at fault would recover $90,000 of a $100,000 reward.


Comparative Negligence and Workers’ Compensation Cases

In Pennsylvania, comparative negligence does not play a role in an injured employee’s ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Workers injured on the job are entitled to comp benefits regardless of whether their own behavior contributed to their injury.




Return To Legal Glossary

“If someone has a serious case, they will get a great effort and a great outcome working with us,” award-winning attorney Victor Pribanic of Pribanic & Pribanic told Best Lawyers Magazine.

If you’ve been injured call or contact us online for immediate assistance: 800-392-4529

Peer Review Rated logo for Excellence in Personal Injury LawPeer Review Rated logo for Excellence in Personal Injury Law
The American Society of Legal AdvocatesThe American Society of Legal Advocates
Top Listed in Best Personal Injury LawyersTop Listed in Best Personal Injury Lawyers
National Trial Lawyers Top 100National Trial Lawyers Top 100
Super Lawyers Award for Excellence in Medical Malpractice LawSuper Lawyers Award for Excellence in Medical Malpractice Law
The Best Lawyers in America for Pribanic & PribanicThe Best Lawyers in America for Pribanic & Pribanic
Fill out my online form.

Start typing and press Enter to search