Comparative Fault vs Contributory Negligence

Posted On December 12 2023 | Personal Injury

In some cases, the process of determining liability after an injury occurs is relatively straightforward. However, it is not uncommon for there to be shared liability amongst various parties involved, and this can complicate the process. States across the country have various ways of handling shared fault after an accident occurs, mainly comparative negligence and contributory negligence systems. Here, we want to review these two ways of determining shared fault and discuss how this can affect Colorado residents and visitors.


Colorado’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law

Colorado’s modified comparative negligence law can be found in Revised Statute 13-21-111. Under this system, individuals who sustain injuries in Colorado can still recover compensation if they are partially at fault for their own injuries. However, injury victims will only be able to receive compensation if they are 49% or less responsible for causing their own injuries. Any person 50% or more responsible for causing their own injury will be unable to recover any compensation for their losses.

However, individuals who are 49% or less responsible for causing their own injuries will not receive total compensation if they share fault. Under the Colorado comparative negligence law, the total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced depending on how much fault they shared for the incident.

For example, let us use simplistic numbers and a theoretical car accident claim. Let us suppose a crash victim sustains $100,000 worth of medical bills for fractured bones in an accident caused primarily by another party. However, let us also suppose that a jury finds that the crash victim was 20% responsible for the incident because they were partially distracted when the incident occurred. Under the comparative negligence law in Colorado, the victim would receive $80,000 instead of the full $100,000. The $20,000 is taken out of the total amount to account for the victim’s 20% of responsibility for the incident.

Contributory Negligence Systems

There are a few states across the country that use a contributory negligence system instead of a comparative negligence system. Under these types of laws, victims become unable to recover any compensation for their losses if they share any percentage of fault for the incident. Even if a victim is found to have been only 1% responsible for causing their own injuries, they will become unable to recover compensation under a contributory negligence system.

Do You Need an Attorney to Handle Shared Fault?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an incident caused by the negligent actions of others, we encourage you to contact a personal injury attorney in Boulder as soon as possible. If there are any allegations of shared fault, this could significantly hinder your chance of recovering the compensation you need. Often, insurance carriers or attorneys for the other parties will attempt to spread the blame out so they pay less compensation. When you have an attorney by your side, you will have an advocate ready to completely investigate your claim and determine the real levels of fault of all parties involved. Your lawyer will work diligently to help you recover full compensation for your losses.