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How Does Contributory Negligence Impact My Personal Injury Claim?

Navigating a personal injury claim can be complicated when contributory negligence comes into play. Understanding this legal concept is crucial for anyone involved in a personal injury case in Oklahoma. In this article, we’ll shed light on contributory negligence and its significant impact on personal injury claims.

What is Contributory Negligence in Oklahoma? 

Contributory negligence refers to a situation where the injured party is found to have contributed to their own injury to some extent. This differs from comparative negligence, which is a legal doctrine that reduces the injured party’s compensation based on their percentage of fault, rather than eliminating it entirely if they are partly at fault.

Examples of Contributory Negligence

Consider a pedestrian who jaywalks and gets hit by a car. If the pedestrian is found to be partially responsible for the accident due to jaywalking, this could be an example of contributory negligence. Similarly, if a driver fails to wear a seatbelt and is injured in a car accident, their failure to follow safety protocol could be considered contributory negligence, especially as it relates to the extent to which the driver was injured. 

The Role of Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Claims

The application of contributory negligence in your personal injury claim can significantly influence its outcome, particularly in terms of the compensation you might receive. Here is a deeper look at its impact:

  1. Complete Loss of Compensation: In jurisdictions that strictly apply contributory negligence, such as the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Alabama, the presence of even the slightest degree of fault on the part of the plaintiff can completely bar them from receiving any compensation. 
  2. Impact on Settlement Negotiations: The concept of contributory negligence can also play a crucial role during settlement negotiations. Insurance companies might leverage contributory negligence as a defense to argue for a lower settlement amount, citing the plaintiff’s partial fault. Understanding how to navigate these negotiations is essential for securing a fair settlement.
  3. Legal Strategy Considerations: When contributory negligence is a factor, it is vital to have a sound legal strategy. This might involve collecting comprehensive evidence to minimize your perceived contribution to the incident or demonstrating the other party’s greater level of fault. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in devising and implementing an effective strategy.
  4. Courtroom Implications: If your case goes to trial, contributory negligence could significantly influence the jury or judge’s decision. Presenting a compelling argument that minimizes your level of fault while highlighting the defendant’s negligence becomes a critical aspect of your legal battle.

Understanding the potential impact of contributory negligence on your claim is a crucial step in preparing for your personal injury case. Being aware of these implications allows you and your personal injury lawyer to approach your case with a clearer strategy and better expectations regarding the outcome.

Oklahoma’s Stance on Contributory Negligence

Oklahoma’s approach to contributory negligence is more lenient compared to some states, adopting a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, you are eligible to recover damages in a personal injury claim as long as you are not more than 50% at fault for the incident. However, the compensation you receive will be proportionately reduced by your percentage of fault.

For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault in a car accident and the total damages amount to $100,000, you would be eligible to receive $70,000, reflecting the deduction of your share of fault. This system aims to balance the scales of justice by acknowledging the nuances inherent in each case, where multiple parties may share varying degrees of fault.

It is important to note that in Oklahoma, contributory negligence will only bar a personal injury plaintiff from compensation if their percentage of fault for the incident in which they were injured is greater than 50%. Furthermore, understanding and proving the degrees of fault in such cases can be complex, requiring a thorough examination of the evidence and strong legal arguments. This is where the expertise of our seasoned personal injury lawyers in Oklahoma City become invaluable.

Contact an Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyer at Parrish DeVaughn for Help with Your Personal Injury Case

By reaching out to our personal injury lawyers, Oklahoma City residents who are concerned about how contributory negligence might affect their personal injury claims, can address these concerns, and get the help they need to secure the compensation they deserve. 

Contact Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our expertise can be the edge you need to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.