Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence: What’s the Difference?
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Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence: What’s the Difference?

In personal injury laws, a very important concept known as negligence is very important to be understood. This serves as one of the foundations of compensation and liability in accident cases.

Negligence is usually referred to as the at-fault party that has caused the accident without giving much importance to the safety of other people.

A car accident lawyer in Houston TX can help you with a better understanding of such concepts. There are also some factors that can play an important role in the establishment of negligence, and these can be the breach of duty, the link between reach and injury, and the existence of the duty of care.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is one of the ways in personal injury cases through which the negligence is assigned to one party. In comparative negligence, it is stated that the fault is divided between the parties involved in the accident.

Now, this states that the party that is injured and the one that is allegedly at fault are assigned a percentage of fault depending on their contribution towards the accident.

This is one of the sensible approaches that are used to get compensation to the victims. Instead of blaming just one party and being black and white, this approach blames both parties for the violation that they have caused, and then both parties are held liable for that.

Comparative negligence is further divided into:

Pure Comparative Negligence

In pure comparative negligence cases, even if the plaintiff is 90% at fault, they are still allowed to ask for the 10% damages that they have suffered.

Now, here, the percentage of the recovery all depends on the fault of the plaintiff, so regardless of how high it is, they still can get compensation for the damages that they have endured.

Modified Comparative Negligence

This is one of the approaches in which there are two variations seen.

  • According to this, a plaintiff is allowed to recover the damages only if they are 50% or less responsible for the damages caused by the accident. And if they are at fault, which equals 51% in total, then they lose the right to get the needle compensation for the damages that they have caused.
  • In some of the states, it is the 50% rule followed. According to it, a plaintiff can get the recovery only in a case where they are less than 50% at fault. If the fault is found to be 50% or more, they cannot get compensation for the damage that they have endured.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is the complete opposite of comparative negligence, as in this approach, there is an all-or-nothing rule that needs to be followed. In this case, if the plaintiff or the at-fault party is found to be a little bit responsible for the accident, they are not given the right to get compensation for the damages that they have suffered.

One of the important implications of contributory negligence is that the injured party may not be able to get back its damages in full. The applicant may be excluded from receiving any compensation for his or her injuries even if the court finds that he is only 1% responsible for the accident.

Comparative Vs Contributory Negligence – Which One to Choose?

Now, to know which one is better out of the two, it all depends on the perspective of a person who has gone through an accident.

When it comes to comparative negligence, there is more room given for the assessment of the fault, and a very lenient approach is used. The best thing on this side is that the plaintiff can get compensation for the damage that has been endured by them.

A lot of people consider this approach to be fairer and clearer to understand compared to contributory negligence.

In the case of contributory negligence, there is a very strict approach, and a lot of people see it as a very explicit standard. Some people also say that this approach lets people think that they must stay more vigilant while diving on the roads to keep the safety of others in check.

But the main question here is which approach is better than the other. Well, there is no perfect answer to that question, as it all depends on the nature of the accident and the severity with which the injuries have been caused. So, the role of the state in which you reside is also very serious when it comes to negligence types.


Comparative and contributory negligence are two approaches that are used in personal injury cases and impact the compensation percentages a lot. To make a choice, you only have to rely on the jurisdiction followed in your state. And also, it all depends on the nature and the severity of the accidents.

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