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Houston Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Personal Injury > Comparative Negligence and Contributory Negligence: What You Need to Know

Comparative Negligence and Contributory Negligence: What You Need to Know


In any personal injury claim, there is one important concept that you always need to keep in mind: negligence. A person is considered to be negligent when they do something or fail to do something and it causes an accident, which leads to subsequent harm for one of the parties involved.

An example of this would be a car accident. If a driver is speeding and they cause a crash, then they are considered negligent. However, it is possible for more than one person to be at fault. For example, in the case of the speeding vehicle, the other driver could be distracted or fatigued, weaving in and out of lanes and making the accident more likely to occur.

Based on this scenario, two or more drivers could be negligent, but how does this play out in terms of receiving compensation for injuries and other damages?

When more than one person is at fault for an accident, there are two possible types of negligence involved: comparative and contributory. Each state is different in terms of which laws it recognizes. Most states use some form of comparative negligence.

The main difference between the two is your ability to collect compensation. Under contributory negligence laws, you cannot receive compensation for injuries or other damages even if you are just 1% at fault. Any degree of fault bars you from damages.

The nice thing about comparative negligence is that you can receive compensation for damages. In some cases, you can collect compensation even if you are 99% at fault. However, the degree of allowed fault depends on the type of comparative negligence. There are three main types:

  • All parties involved can collect damages, regardless of fault. They can collect damages minus their portion of fault.
  • You cannot collect damages if you are mostly at fault. Depending on the state, you cannot collect if you are 50% or 51% or more at fault for an accident.
  • Slight-gross. You can only collect damages if you’re slightly negligent.

Texas operates under the modified comparative negligence – 51% rule, which is also known as

the 51% bar rule. What this means is that if you are 51% or more at fault for the accident, you are barred from collecting any sort of compensation. You cannot be more at fault than any other parties to the accident. There are 20 other states that follow this negligence rule.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Each state has different laws regarding negligence. If you are involved in a car accident or other type of personal injury, make sure you understand the rules that apply.

A Houston personal injury attorney from The West Law Office, PLLC can help you understand negligence laws. Let us help you get justice and the maximum available financial compensation. Schedule a free consultation with our office today by calling 281-347-3247 or filling out the online form.



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