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What is the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule?

By far, the most common way states decide which driver pays which and how much he or she pays is the modified comparative negligence rule.

Basically, the rule states that a driver who was more at fault pays the driver who was less at fault the damages the less-at-fault driver suffered minus the less-at-fault driver’s share of the fault.

A driver who is more responsible for the accident than another can’t sue the less-at-fault driver.

Confusing? Probably. Don’t worry, though, since we’re only getting started; we’ll explain this in much more detail below, including with always helpful examples.

How Does the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule Work?

The basic gist of it is that the most important thing you’ll have to prove is that you were not as much at fault as the other driver. (In some states, you’ll have to show you were less at fault than the other driver.)

Once you do that, you’ll want to demonstrate that your fault was minimal.

The more fault you contributed to the accident, the less you’ll receive in damages.

The amount you receive in damages is reduced in proportion to your share of the fault.

The reason it’s so important to show you were not mostly at fault is that if you are, you’re barred from suing in a state with a modified comparative negligence rule. And, in some states, even if you shared the blame equally with the other driver you can’t sue him or her.

So while damages are reduced proportionally up to 50 percent (including 50 percent in some states and excluding it in others), once you’re past 50 percent (or at 50 percent in some states), the comparative negligence framework disappears, and you get nothing.

That’s why, when you apply for a car accident loan from Delta Lawsuit Loans, we’ll review all the details of your case, including your share of the fault.

Even if your case doesn’t go to trial, the modified comparative negligence rule is still considered by the other driver’s insurer when you go to trial, so it’s relevant nonetheless.

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What Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State

A state with a modified comparative negligence rule ensures that the driver who was less at fault gets compensated for his or her damages.

At the same time, it ensures that the driver who was more at fault does not pay for the portion of the accident he or she did not cause.

The difference between the pure comparative negligence rule and the modified comparative negligence rule is that the modified comparative negligence rule bars plaintiffs who were more responsible than (and in some states as responsible as) the other driver from collecting damages.

This ensures that one driver’s insurer pays the other driver, whereas in a pure comparative negligence state, the drivers’ insurers each pay the other driver if one driver was not completely at fault.

The only case in which that would happen in a modified comparative negligence state is if the fault were split evenly among the drivers, and in some states all drivers would be barred from suing if that were the case.

How Can We Help

We offer pre-settlement cash advances for 30 states with a modified comparative negligence rule.

Applying only takes a short conversation, after which your lawyer will send over some documents.

After that, it usually only takes us about 24 hours to make a decision and, if that decision is to fund your case, to deposit a lawsuit loan directly to your bank account.

Once it’s there, you can use that money for whatever you want.

How Do You Calculate Modified Comparative Negligence?

In a modified comparative negligence state, a jury is told to find two things.

First, they come to a decision as to how much the accident cost a driver, called damages.

These can include economic damages, which have an objective price tag and include medical expenses and time out of work, and non economic damages, including pain and suffering.

Second, the jury finds the driver’s share of the fault. A driver’s contributory negligence––whether he or she contributed at all to the accident occurring––does not bar him or her from suing. But it does affect the amount he or she gets.

That brings us to step three. The jury subtracts the driver’s share of the fault from the driver’s damages. That’s the final amount the driver will receive.

If all that sounds identical to a pure comparative negligence rule, that’s because it is––so far.

Read more about the pure comparative negligence rule.

The modified twist is that if the share of the fault the jury finds is greater than the defendant’s share of the fault (in some states, if it is equal to the defendant’s share of the fault), the driver can’t collect any damages from the defendant.

Example of the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

For simplicity, we’ll assume only two drivers are involved in a crash. Your damages totaled $20,000; the other driver’s, $50,000. You were 20 percent responsible for the accident, and the other driver contributed the other 80 percent.

  • The first scenario is one where you sue the other driver. The jury will subtract your 20 percent of fault from $20,000; 20 percent of $20,000 is $4,000. The other driver’s insurer pays you $16,000.
  • The second scenario is one where the other driver sues you. Because his or her share of the fault exceeded yours, he or she would not receive any damages in a modified comparative negligence state. In a pure comparative negligence state, he or she would receive 20 percent of $50,000, or $10,000.

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Which States Have a Modified Comparative Negligence Rule?

Overall and out of the states Delta Lawsuit Loans covers, the modified comparative negligence rule is the most popular by far.

Thirty states––nearly 70 percent––of the states we fund use the modified comparative negligence, so if you’re on our site, chances are better than not that your state follows the modified comparative negligence rule.

States on this list that have a no-fault insurance system are marked with an asterisk.

To learn more about when you can sue in those states, either visit the state’s page or our page on no-fault insurance.

When a state does not follow the traditional modified comparative negligence rule––a driver cannot collect damages once he or she is more responsible for the accident than the driver he or she is suing––the exception will be outlined under the state.

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii*
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas*
  • Maine
    • Maine bars drivers who share responsibility equally from collecting damages.
  • Massachusetts*
  • Michigan*
    • A driver can collect economic damages, which include medical bills and lost wages, no matter how much fault he or she contributed to the accident (as long as it wasn’t 100 percent). Only non economic damages such as pain and suffering are barred once a driver is more responsible for the accident than the other.
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
    • You can’t sue in Nebraska if you share fault equally with the other driver.
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey*
  • North Dakota*
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania*
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
    • A plaintiff is barred from suing in South Dakota is his or her contribution to the accident was more than “slight.” South Dakota law largely leaves up to the jury how much contributory negligence is considered “slight.”
  • Tennessee
    • If you’re equally responsible, you can’t sue in Tennessee.
  • Texas
  • Utah*
    • Drivers who are equally responsible for an accident can’t sue in Utah.
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

These states judge car accident lawsuits under the modified comparative negligence system.

You’ll need to show you were less at fault (or no more at fault as in most states) than the other driver if you want to get any damages. If you want most or all of your damages, you’ll have to show you contributed little or no fault to the accident.

Lawsuit Loans From Delta Lawsuit Loans

When you’re considering whether to apply for settlement funding from us, you should consider several perks of lawsuit loans.

We won’t check your credit or employment when you apply, which distinguishes us from most if not all other types of lenders.

When we give you a settlement loan, it’s your money, which means you can spend it however you want.

We don’t tell you how you may and may not spend your money.
You only pay back if you win. Also, you only pay back when you win, which means no payments are due while your lawsuit or settlement is pending.

When you win, we’re paid directly out of the settlement; if you don’t win, we’re not paid at all.

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Over his career, James has successfully built and managed several of his own businesses, sold his company, managed hundreds of employees, operated across the United States and Europe, and completed financings for his own companies in excess of $400 million dollars.

James investment and operating experience includes co-founding one of the largest pre settlement companies, a special purpose fund that advanced money to litigants against pending legal claims. He had over $300 million across thousands of case investments, collections, and receivables, a staff of almost 50 employees, operating in 40 states. James built, assembled, and motivated a team of who became the leaders in their field of pre settlement funding. The company offered multiple solutions include attorney funding, plaintiff advances, pre settlement and post-settlement funding, and surgical and medical financing, which enable his clients to receive funds for their case, while the await their settlement.

After selling his business, James now operates a consulting firm which specializes in the lawsuit loan industry. He advises companies how to structure their financing, run their operations, deal with legal issues and collecting on their lawsuit loans. In addition to his consulting firm, James teaches business ethics classes and a local university.

James enjoys teaching, reading, writing and spending time with his wife and two boys.