Tort Law

Comparative Negligence

This page within Virginia Tort Law is an explanation of the concept of comparative negligence and a reporting of cases from the Virginia Supreme Court summarized by Brien Roche.
Comparative negligence is a tort/personal injury concept that is not recognized in any of the local jurisdictions of Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. Many states do, however, recognize the concept of comparative negligence which is dramatically different than the principle of contributory negligence. Comparative negligence simply means that if there is negligence on the part of the person bringing the claim then the overall verdict is reduced by the amount of negligence on that person’s part. For instance, if the party bringing the claim is found to be 20% negligent then the amount of the verdict is reduced by 20%.

Comparative Negligence-A Fairer System

Comparative negligence is seen by most as being a fairer system of compensation than the contributory negligence rule which is quite harsh. There have been frequent attempts to implement comparative negligence in Virginia but to date they have failed.

Contributory negligence and comparative negligence are concepts that are well-known to any personal injury attorney. In 46 of the 50 states the rule of law that applies is what is known as comparative negligence. That is the negligence of the plaintiff is compared with that of the defendant.

Comparative Negligence-DC Metro Area

Virginia, Maryland and D. C. adhere to a strict common law contributory negligence rule which bars recovery.

The High Court in the state of Maryland in 2013 was confronted with a case where an assistant soccer coach jumped on the metal cross bar at the front of a soccer goal resulting in the soccer goal coming down and crushing his face. The soccer goal was not anchored.

As one can imagine, the business interests are much in favor of the contributory negligence rule since that may bar recovery by many potential claimants.

The General Assembly in Maryland, as is true in Virginia, has chosen not to act on the contributory negligence rule in those respective states.

In the state of Maryland, the High Court did, approximately 30 years ago, reaffirm the principle of contributory negligence although the current Chief Judge of that court has suggested that there may be some interest in revising the Rule on the theory that the failure of the General Assembly to act means that they expect the High Court to act.

Comparatice Negligence-Contact Us

For more information on this issue and other personal injury concepts see the other articles on this site by injury attorney Brien Roche.For more information on comparative negligence issues see the page on Wikipedia. 

Comparative Negligence-Statutes

See Va. Code § 56-416.

Comparative Negligence Cases

1950 Wray v. Norfolk & W. Ry., 191 Va. 212, 61 S.E.2d 65.

Garbage truck struck by train at railroad crossing. Defendant’s verdict upheld. Doctrine of comparative negligence only comes into play where railroad crossing signals are not given. However, applicability rests upon whether crossing in question was link of public way.

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Comparative Negligence

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation