Negligence And Legal Liability – Your Guide To Auto Insurance

People are dumbfounded sometimes to be in a courtroom, perhaps on a jury, and hear the judge instruct the jury as to the law in a negligence case in the following language:

“In order to recover in an action of this character the plaintiff must establish two vitally important propositions; the first is that the defendant was guilty of negligence causing the injury to the plaintiff, and the second is that the plaintiff was free from any negligence which in any way contributed to or caused these injuries which were the result of the collision.”

Comparative negligence. In the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin, they have a different rule. They call it “comparative negligence.” In these states you would not be barred from recovering damages even though you were guilty of contributory negligence. The amount of the recovery, however, could be reduced in proportion to the amount of your negligence.

The rule of comparative negligence conforms to the layman’s idea of how an automobile case should be settled.

Actual court case
Action was begun to recover damages for injuries resulting to the plaintiff from defendant’s permitting his automobile to stand upon the highway without a free passage for vehicles and leaving the car unlighted. The jury returned a special verdict finding the defendant negligent in failing to have any light on his automobile; the jury also found the plaintiff was negligent in failing to keep a sufficient lookout and to keep his car under control; that the total amount of the damages suffered by the plaintiff was $4,- 220.00; and that the plaintiff by his negligence contributed to produce his own injuries in the proportion of 25 per cent. Judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiff for 75 per cent of the total injury.

The Court quoted the Wisconsin statute as follows: “Contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in an action by any person … to recover damages for negligence … if such negligence was not as great as the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished by the jury in the proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person recovering.”

If you have an accident in one of the above five states, your claim is governed by the rule of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is generally considered more favorable to a claimant than the rule of contributory negligence. Lucky it will be for you then, if you must have an accident, to have the accident take place in Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota or Wisconsin.


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