This is the second post in the series “Understanding Personal Injury Laws in Missouri”. My last post provided an overview of topics I will address in regards to Missouri personal injury law. This post will focus on Pure Comparative Negligence, specifically what it is and how you as a Missouri resident can benefit from it.
What is Pure Comparative Negligence?
Pure comparative negligence, sometimes referred to as pure comparative fault, is a legal doctrine which determines how fault should be apportioned in a personal injury case, and ultimately how compensation for damages are determined. In layperson terms, this means that a judge, jury, arbitrator or attorney who is attempting to settle a case will assign a percentage of fault for causing the accident to both the plaintiff and defendant. If the plaintiff is less than 100% at fault for causing the accident he can receive compensation for his damages. However, the plaintiff’s damages will be offset by the percentage of his fault.
Here is an example of how this doctrine is applied in Missouri. Let’s assume Bob and Sally get into an automobile accident and Sally is injured. Sally has suffered $100,000 in damages and after reviewing the evidence it is determined Sally was 0% at fault and Bob was 100% at fault. Sally would receive $100,000 for her damages.
Now lets assume the same facts except Sally was found to be 10% at fault and Bob was 90% at fault. Sally’s recovery would be offset by her percentage of fault (10%) and she would receive $90,000 for her damages.
Lastly, lets assume the same facts except Sally was found to be 99% at fault and Bob was 1% at fault. Sally’s recovery would be offset by her percentage of fault (99%) and she would receive $1,000 for her injuries.
So, as long as Sally is found to be less than 100% at fault for causing the accident she can recover something for her damages.
Missouri residents benefit from the Pure Comparative Negligence Doctrine
Missouri residents benefit from the pure comparative negligence doctrine because the resident can still recover a portion of his damages, even if he was partially to blame for causing the accident. Under the traditional doctrine for determining fault, a person who was even 1% at fault for causing the accident was completely barred from recovering anything. Years later that doctrine was relaxed and people who were partially at fault for causing an accident could recover as long as they were less than 50% at fault. Determining percentage of fault in an accident is not an exact science and it is usually argued based upon the facts of the case. As such, having a fault doctrine which allows for recovering your damages, even if partially at fault, clearly benefits Missouri residents.
Are there other personal injury issues you find confusing? Please feel free to reply in the comment box below to suggest a topic for this series. All feedback is welcome and appreciated. If you require the services of a Springfield auto accident lawyer then contact my office today.