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Is my personal injury claim affected by my own negligence?

At one time, a person suffering a serious personal injury in a car accident in New Haven, Connecticut, might be unable to receive compensation from the negligent driver who caused the accident. Under the state’s contributory negligence law, a finding that an accident victim was as little as 1 percent at fault, as in the case of a passenger not wearing a seat belt, the injured party could not recover damages.

Connecticut did away with contributory negligence and adopted comparative negligence as state law. A person who suffers catastrophic injuries in a car crash and wants to sue the negligent driver may do so and possibly recover compensation even if the injured person was also at fault. For example, if a crash reconstruction shows that the failure of the accident victim to wear a seat best caused the injuries to be worse than they otherwise might have been, the person might still recover damages.

Comparative negligence allows a judge or, in cases heard by a jury, the jurors to assess fault between the parties to the lawsuit. As long as the plaintiff, the person suing for compensation, was less at fault than the defendant, the person being sued, the plaintiff may be awarded compensation.

Recognition of the negligence on the part of the plaintiff is taken into consideration in determining the final amount awarded to the plaintiff. The award is reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of negligence. So, if a jury finds that plaintiff was 20 percent at fault and the defendant was 80 percent. The amount the plaintiff might have received is reduced by 20 percent.

Personal injury is a complex area of the law that is beyond the scope of a single posting to cover in detail. Legal advice about comparative negligence or other issues related to car accidents should only be obtained from a personal injury attorney. This posting is not offered or intended to serve as a substitute for the advice given by an attorney. 

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