Negligence is a legal concept that's generally defined as when a person acts carelessly and his or her actions harm another person. Examples of negligence are accidents, such as a car accident, or a slip-and-fall in an area that had just been mopped without warning. These are accidents where a person or company can be found, at least partially, at fault because they weren’t upholding the standard of care that society requires. For more information, see the articles in the FindLaw Negligence articles.
States have developed laws to regulate negligence. There are two main legal negligence doctrines: comparative negligence and contributory negligence. In the few states that still have the traditional contributory negligence as law, any fault on the part of the plaintiff will prevent them from recovering for his or her losses, even if he or she was only 1% at fault and the other party or parties were 99% fault. Fortunately, most states, including Connecticut, no longer have this uncompromising negligence regime and instead use comparative negligence.
In a comparative negligence state, the plaintiff can still recover even if partially at fault. The two types of comparative negligence are pure and modified. In a “pure” jurisdiction, the claimant can collect from a defendant, even if he or she was found 99% at fault by the judge or jury. The defendant would still owe for his 1% fault. In a “modified comparative fault” system, which is the current majority, the plaintiff only recovers if he or she is found less than 50% or 51%, depending on the laws of the state. Connecticut has a modified comparative negligence law where the plaintiff can recover as long as she’s not more at fault than the others (not 51% or more).
Contribution Among Defendants
Also, defendants generally only pay the amount corresponding to the percentage of fault the judge or jury assigns to them. However, sometimes a defendant can’t be collected against, either because he or she is broke or is immune, such as a government entity like a public school (although that’s not always true!). In such cases, in Connecticut, the other defendants will have to cover that amount as well, in proportion to the fault assigned to them.
The chart below provides more detail on Connecticut’s negligence laws.
|Code Sections||Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-572h: Negligence Actions, Doctrines Applicable, Liability of Multiple Tortfeasors for Damages|
|Comparative Negligence||Connecticut is a modified comparative fault state where the plaintiff can recover from the defendant(s) as long as he or she is found 51% or less at fault in the accident or incident.|
|Contributory Negligence||The negligence of the plaintiff doesn’t bar recovery for his or her damages, as long as that negligence isn’t greater than the combined negligence of the defendant(s). However, damages are decreased by the proportion that the plaintiff was negligent.|
|Contribution Among Tortfeasors||Yes, a “tortfeasor” (the defendant or the liable person who caused the “tort” or injury) can seek contribution for the damages from other tortfeasors.
Sometimes the plaintiff releases one defendant from the claim, i.e. agrees not to sue them, usually because he or she has settled out of court with that party. If that happens, the plaintiff can still continue the lawsuit against the other defendant(s).
When one defendant is uncollectible, the plaintiff must bring a case against the other defendants within one year (that’s the “statute of limitations”). Then, the award will be redistributed among the other defendants as mentioned above.
If you’ve been in an accident or have been injured because of someone’s negligent acts, you should consult with a local personal injury lawyer. An attorney can tell you what your options are and most of the time in this area of law, you won’t be charged anything unless you win your case.
Note: State laws are revised regularly. Therefore, you should contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to confirm the currentness of these laws.
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