What Is Contributory Fault?

When an accident occurs, it’s common for more than one person to be to blame-–though their degree of fault may differ. For example, if you trip on a bunched-up rug at the entrance to a store and are injured, the owner of the store may be to blame. However, if you were looking at your phone when you tripped, you may be partially to blame, as well.  

In the personal injury context, shared fault among parties in an accident is called contributory fault. As an injured party, whether you were partly to blame can impact your ability to recover compensation. 

Each state adopts a specific approach to contributory fault. There are three main approaches: contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligenceTexas has adopted a modified comparative negligence approach. 

Three Primary Types of Contributory Fault

Contributory fault laws may determine whether you can recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages stemming from an accident. They may also determine the amount of economic and non-economic damages you’re able to recover if you were partly to blame for an accident. 

It’s important to understand which contributory fault approach applies in your case and how it will affect your claims. 

Contributory Negligence

The strictest contributory fault approach is called contributory negligence. In states with these laws, an injured party is completely barred from recovering compensation if they bear any responsibility for the accident. This is true if they were 1% at fault or if they were 99% at fault.

Only a few states follow this approach, such as Maryland. 

Pure Comparative Negligence

The most forgiving contributory fault approach is pure comparative negligence. Under this approach, an injured party can recover compensation against another at-fault party regardless of their degree of fault.

The injured party’s compensation will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. For example, if they are 10% at fault, then their damages will be reduced by 10%. 

Several states follow this approach, including California and New York. 

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence laws fall somewhere between contributory negligence and pure comparative negligence. Under a modified comparative negligence law, an injured party can recover compensation if they bear up to 49% or 50% of the blame–depending on the state–but will be barred from recovering compensation if their degree of fault exceeds that amount. 

The majority of states with a modified comparative negligence law bar recovery if the injured party is 51% or more at fault. Texas follows this approach. Some states, such as Colorado, bar recovery if the injured party was 50% or more at fault. 

Texas’s Modified Comparative Negligence Approach

Texas’s modified comparative negligence law cuts off recovery if you are found to be more than 51% at fault. Thus, if you are up to 50% at fault, you can still recover compensation for your injuries. 

Like with the pure comparative negligence approach, your compensation will be reduced proportionally to your degree of fault. 

Contact an Experienced Laredo Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If you’re being blamed for a personal injury accident in Laredo, TX, an experienced personal injury attorney can. Roderick C. Lopez Personal Injury Lawyers will fight to reduce your degree of liability and ensure that you don’t bear more than your fair share of the blame. Contact our experienced Laredo personal injury lawyer today at (956) 529-7336 to schedule a free consultation.