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Personal Injury

Injured in Powell? What You Need to Know About Contributory Negligence

December 17, 2020

While there are many accidents where it is obvious that one party is at fault, there are many others where it may be difficult to determine who or what caused the accident. If you were injured in one of those situations, you may be surprised when the other party claims that your own negligence was at least partially to blame for the accident. This concept of contributory negligence can have important ramifications in your case. A Powell personal injury attorney can help you understand what it means for you and help you overcome this defense. 

Contributory Negligence in General

Most personal injury cases involve one person (the plaintiff) claiming that they were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence (the defendant). Originally, the doctrine of contributory negligence held that a plaintiff would be prohibited from recovering any compensation if their own negligence contributed to the accident in any way. For example: 

  • A plaintiff sues a defendant for injuries that resulted from a car accident when the defendant ran a stop sign. However, the defendant claims that the plaintiff was driving while distracted and could have otherwise avoided the accident. 
  • A plaintiff sues a restaurant when they are injured in a slip and fall accident on the premises. The defendant bar owner claims that the plaintiff was intoxicated at the time that they fell. 
  • A worker sues an independent contractor when they are injured on a construction site due to the contractor’s negligence. The contractor claims that the plaintiff was not wearing a hard hat, which would have prevented the injury. 

The plaintiffs’ negligence in the cases above, no matter how small, would prohibit them from receiving any compensation under the traditional contributory negligence rule.

Comparative Negligence

Because the outcomes under the traditional contributory negligence rule were so unfair, many states, including Wyoming, have adopted a comparative negligence rule. Under the comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff is barred from receiving compensation if their negligence contributed more than 50% to causing the accident. If their negligence contributed to less than 50%, then the awarded compensation is reduced accordingly. For example, if the plaintiff’s negligence accounts for 30% of the accident, the damages award would be reduced by 30%. 

How a Powell Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Contributory negligence is a common defense raised by people when they want to avoid liability for their own negligence. Unfortunately, the defense can be difficult for non-lawyers to overcome. A Powell personal injury attorney can help you overcome this defense in three ways: 

  1. The defendant must prove that you were negligent. Your lawyer can analyze their evidence, identify its weaknesses, and offer your own evidence that refutes the defense. 
  2. The defendant must prove that your negligence contributed to the accident in some way. An experienced Powell personal injury attorney will be able to argue that, even if you were negligent, it did not contribute to causing the accident. 
  3. If you were negligent, your lawyer will use evidence to make sure that your negligence is not overvalued in determining the amount of your compensation. 

Talk to a Powell Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident, your health and your future are at stake. The good news is that an experienced attorney can help you get the compensation you need to get back on your feet. To schedule a free consultation, contact Ragain & Clark at 307-388-6400 today to discuss your case and how we can help.

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