Determining who is at fault for a semi-truck accident can be a challenging process. If you are bringing the lawsuit or filing an insurance claim for damages, you must be able to prove that the other driver was negligent.

Contributory and comparative negligence deal with situations in which both parties contributed to the accident. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to collect damages if you were partially at fault for the car accident. It is important to understand how the recovery is different under each approach and which one will apply in your home state.

If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, call Zinda Law Group at (888) 345-9407 for a free consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer.


Contributory negligence is the harshest outcome for the plaintiff. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff contributed in any way to the accident–even as little as one percent–then the plaintiff will not be able to recover any damages. Even if the plaintiff was only slightly at fault, they will not receive compensation.

The following states use the contributory negligence doctrine: Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

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Comparative negligence takes into consideration each party’s fault in determining damages. There are two kinds of comparative negligence: pure and modified.

Pure Comparative Negligence

This approach reduces the amount of damages recoverable based on the degree to which the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the injuries. The damages the plaintiff recovers will be reduced by their contribution to the accident. For instance, if the total damages were $100,000 and you were found to be 10 percent at fault, you would receive $90,000.

The following states follow this model: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence is the most common approach among the states. In this model, there is an at-fault threshold; if the plaintiff is responsible for more than the at-fault threshold, they cannot recover from the other driver.

The following states have a 50 percent threshold, which means that if the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault for the incident, there is no monetary recovery: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia.

The following states have a 51% threshold, meaning that plaintiff can recover if they are 50 percent or less at fault, but not if they are 51 percent or above at fault: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming.


At Zinda Law Group, our trucking attorneys have helped countless 18-wheeler accident victims recover damages for medical bills, property damages, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.

Our truck injury lawyers will fight tirelessly to protect your rights, and as one of our clients, you will pay nothing unless we win your case.

Call Zinda Law Group today at (888) 345-9407 to receive your free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers. Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.