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What is comparative negligence in a car accident?

When an accident occurs, the details leading up to the crash could be very complex. Multiple vehicles and victims could be involved in the collision. Furthermore, there could be several factors that caused the accident. Because there are multiple factors in the crash, this could mean that more than one party is at fault. Accident victims in Iowa should understand that negligence could be placed on several parties, even if they are injured and suffered losses in the accident.

In comparative negligence, the blame could be split among several parties involved in a crash. Whether it is a multi-vehicle collision or a two-car accident, blame could be placed on someone or everyone involved in the crash. This is also referred to as "apportionment of fault" or "allocation of fault." This theory suggests that any damages sought in a claim following a car accident will be reduced by the amount the plaintiff is responsible for the crash.

Some states follow the pure comparative fault model, which allows an injured party to collect compensation for damages. The award would be reduced by the amount they are found to be negligent. In other states, they recognize the pure contributory negligence rule, which prevents a party from collecting damages if they are found to be as little as one percent to blame.

Lastly, some states do acknowledge a modified comparative fault model, which creates a bar on damages. If a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault in a crash, they are unable to file a claim for compensation. This is also known as the 51 percent rule.

Following an automobile collision, those injured should understand their rights. An accident investigation will help determine cause and liability. Moreover, it could help the victims of the crash to determine whether or not they should file a civil action for their losses or damages.

Source:, "Comparative Negligence," accessed on Sept. 7, 2014

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