Whenever a person sustains an injury due to the act of another person, he can sue the defaulting party to recover damages for his injury. The problem comes into play when both parties are at fault in causing the injury. In this instance, both parties share the blame for causing the injury: When it comes to awarding damages, the court places the case either under contributory or comparative negligence. These two terms may sound interchangeable but they are not. Understanding how they are different will help you in the course of your claim.
Negligence is simply fault. It means that a person causes an injury to another person or himself through his own fault. Every member of the society has a duty of care towards other members of the society. If he fails in this duty of care, and it results in harm, then negligence comes into play.
Generally, everyone owes a duty of care to his neighbour and a neighbour has been defined as the person who can become adversely affected by your actions or inactions. For drivers on the road, there is a duty of care towards other drivers in order to prevent accidents.
There are instances when there is a duty of care because of a special relationship between the parties. An example of this is the relationship between a doctor and a patient. The doctor has a duty of care to treat the patient well. Failure to do this would mean that he was negligent and has to compensate his patient for any loss suffered.
Contributory negligence is a doctrine of the law which frees a party from liability because the claimant also has a fault in causing the injury. If contributory negligence can be established, the defaulting party owes nothing to the plaintiff. An example of contributory negligence is when both drivers in a car accident were drunk. This means that they both contributed to the injury and as such, no one owes another person any liability.
Comparative negligence is quite similar to contributory negligence and both could be mistakenly interchanged. While contributory negligence has to do with the definition of a legal term, comparative negligence is more concerned with the payment of damages. Under comparative negligence, a person would be compensated based on how much of his fault causes the injury.
Negligence can determine if your workers’ compensation claim would be successful. If the injury suffered is due to your fault, your claim can fail. This is why you need to have a workers’ compensation attorney to advice you on your liability in order to determine if your claim would be successful. This would save you from pursuing a claim that was doomed from the start.
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