What is “Comparative Negligence”?

“Comparative negligence” is a legal doctrine by which a jury or a judge assesses the degree of negligence of a plaintiff, vis-à-vis each of the actual defendants in a lawsuit. If a plaintiff is 51% at fault vis-à-vis all the defendants, the plaintiff recovers nothing. To the extent the plaintiff is 50% or less comparatively negligent or at fault than the defendants together, the plaintiff will recover damages less the percent that represents plaintiff’s own comparative negligence percentage.

This doctrine was enacted in order to ameliorate the harm caused to many plaintiffs when 1% negligence on the part of a plaintiff was a complete bar to any recovery at all. It realistically achieves the goal of full but fair compensation.