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Contributory negligence: What it is and how it affects a PI claim

In Colorado and all states, if you are injured due to another person's negligence, you can seek justice by filing a personal injury claim in a civil court. This type of claim allows you to request compensation for any and all damages associated with the incident that caused your injury. For instance, if you underwent surgery and the surgeon commits an error that results in your worsened condition, you may request monetary recovery for your losses, which might include additional medical expenses, lost wages or other costs.

When motor vehicle collisions occur that result in injury, recovering victims often file claims against any and all parties deemed responsible for their accidents. In some situations, however, the person against whom a personal injury claim is filed may launch a defense saying the plaintiff somehow contributed to the cause of the accident as well, and, therefore, should be held monetarily accountable proportionate to his or her own negligence. This is contributory negligence.

Facts you should know about it

You can probably see how such situations can become a your-word-against-his or her-word battle in court. The key factor to remember is that in certain circumstances, Colorado law still allows you to receive compensation for damages even if you are partially responsible for a collision. If you're worried about filing a claim because an officer at the scene of a car accident cited you for a traffic violation, the following information may help clarify several issues:

  • Basically, negligence means someone who has a duty to another person fails to fulfill that duty. With regard to personal injury claims, the claimant is stating that the other person's negligence caused him or her to suffer bodily harm, financial loss, or mental injury or illness.
  • In certain types of claims (such as medical malpractice) state law caps the amount of compensation a victim may recover. For medical malpractice, the capped amount in this state is $1 million, unless extenuating circumstances apply. A different amount is set regarding non-economic damages, such as emotional pain and suffering.
  • Contributory negligence laws vary by state.
  • In Colorado, monetary recovery for damages is possible so long as the other person's negligence is greater than your own.
  • The amount of damages you may claim is usually diminished if the court finds you partially negligent.

When you suffer injury, whether the incident is connected to a medical situation, a car accident or a product liability incident, you may face undue financial hardships that you may be completely unprepared to meet. This is one of the reasons the law allows you to seek full recovery for your losses in court.

Contributory negligence does not necessarily mean you won't receive compensation for damages, only that the amount of compensation you receive may be less than what might otherwise be available if the defendant in your claim was solely responsible for your injury. To clarify the legalities of such issues and seek experienced guidance regarding how best to address a particular matter, you can access support by scheduling a consultation with a personal injury attorney.

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