Contributory Negligence

Posted on August 24, 2015

Comparative and contributory negligence are theories of recovery that consider the plaintiff’s responsibility in causing his or her own injury. Under a contributory negligence system, a plaintiff cannot recover if he or she shares fault for the injury with the defendant. Under this system, even if a plaintiff is 2 percent at fault and a defendant is 98 percent at fault for a plaintiff’s harm, the plaintiff cannot recover. When states have a modified contributory negligence system, the plaintiff typically cannot recover if their fault is above a certain threshold, perhaps 50 percent. Most states have switched from a contributory negligence system to a comparative or modified comparative negligence system.