What is Contributory Negligence?

If you are injured in an auto-accident or if you have been the victim of an intentional or negligent incident, one common defense that will be used against you will be the defense of contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence allows the defendant to show that the plaintiff was also responsible for the injury or damages. Contributory negligence is measured as a percentage of fault, meaning that both parties will be assigned a percentage of the fault for causing the incident.

For example, a defendant would argue that the plaintiff was at least 51% responsible for the damages under C.R.S. 13-21-111, which states states: “Contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in any action by any person or his legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or in injury to person or property, if such negligence was not as great as the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought[.]

The statute further states: “[…] but any damages allowed shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person for whose injury, damage, or death recovery is made.” Here, that statute allows the court to reduce the judgement against a defendant by the percentage of fault caused by the plaintiff. For example, if total damages were $100,000 and the court ruled the plaintiff was 49% at fault, the plaintiff’s judgement would be reduced to $51,000 ($100,000 – $49,000) to account of the part the plaintiff played in causing the damages.

When approaching litigation as a plaintiff, it is important to remember that defendants have several legal defenses, such as contributory negligence, that can be used to avoid liability, or reduce the overall judgement. The attorneys on our legal team at Harding & Associates stand ready to schedule an initial consultation with you. You can schedule a no-obligation, no-cost initial consultation by calling our offices at 800-878-7888 or 303-762-9500.

Under C.R.S. 13-21-111

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