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comparative negligence

n. a rule of law applied in accident cases to determine responsibility and damages based on the negligence of every party directly involved in the accident. For a simple example, Eddie Leadfoot, the driver of one automobile, is speeding and Rudy Airhead, the driver of an oncoming car, has failed to signal and starts to turn left, incorrectly judging Leadfoot's speed. A crash ensues in which Airhead is hurt. Airhead's damage recovery will be reduced by the percentage his failure to judge Leadfoot's speed contributed to or caused the accident. Most cases are not as simple, and the formulas to figure out, attribute and compare negligence often make assessment of damages problematic, difficult, and possibly totally subjective. Not all states use comparative negligence (California is a fairly recent convert), and some states still use contributory negligence which denies recovery to any party whose negligence has added to the cause of the accident in any way. Contributory negligence is often so unfair that juries tend to ignore it.

See also: contributory negligence  damages  negligence 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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