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Negligence laws

Information on the law about NegligenceThe State Of The Law

As can be seen by looking at the table of negligence laws, there is great diversity among the states as to how negligence is handled. As the law of negligence continues to mature and change, courts have led the way in defining the laws and legislatures have in may cases responded with statutes that both recognize the cause of action and often limit it as well.

There have been many attempts over the years to have Congress or state legislatures pass laws that would specifically limit the amount of recovery available to plaintiffs in negligence actions. So far, none has met with much success. Under the general term "tort reform," such acts promise to be proposed in the future.

Table 36: Negligence

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
ALABAMA None No   Plaintiff's negligence is a bar to recovery. Contributory negligence is an affirmative defense. (ARCP, Rule 8(c)) Jackson v. Waller, 410 So.2d 98 (1982) No No. Gobble v. Bradford, 147 So. 619 (1933); But yes if executed instrument with joint payees or indorsers, §7-3-116
ALASKA 23.25.010 (Employer's liability for negligence) No Yes, §09.17.060 Contributory fault diminishes proportionately the award based on claimant's fault, but does not bar recovery ("Pure" comparative negligence)   Kaatz v. Alaska, 540 P.2d 1037 (1975); "Pure" form adopted and codified herein Yes; §09.17.080(d)
ARIZONA 12-2505 Yes; §12-2501, et seq. No right to comparative negligence if claimant intentionally, wilfully or wantonly caused/contributed to injury or wrongful death §12-2505(A)     Yes; §12-2501, et seq.
ARKANSAS 16-64-122 Yes; 16-61-201 to 212   If Plaintiff's fault is of less degree than defendant's, he may recover amount diminished in proportion to degree of his own fault; if plaintiff's fault is equal to or greater than defendant, he may not recover at all (§16-64-122)   Yes; §§16-61-201 to 212
CALIFORNIA Civ. §1714 No "Pure" form adopted by Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 532 P.2d 1226 (1975).   Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 532 P.2d 1226 (1975). Yes; (Civ.§1431.2) liability of each defendant per non-economic damages shall be several only and not joint.

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
COLORADO 13-21-111 Yes. §§13-50.5-101 to 13.50.5-106   Contributory negligence does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence is not greater than defendant's. But any damages allowed is diminished in proportion to claimant's attributed negligence (13-21-111)   Yes; §§13-50.5-101 to 13.50.5-106
CONNECTICUT 52-572h     Comparative negligence does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence is not greater than combined negligence of defendant(s). However, damages are diminished in proportion to attributed negligence (§52-572h)   Yes; §52-572e; also §52-572h. Must be brought within one year
DELAWARE Tit. 10 §8132 Yes; Tit. 10 §§6301 to 6308   Claimant's contributory negligence does not bar recovery if such negligence is not greater than the defendant(s) negligence. But any awarded are diminished in proportion to claimant's attributed negligence (Tit. 10 §8132)   Yes; Tit. 10 §§6301 to 6308
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA None     Plaintiff's negligence is a bar to recovery except the liability of common carriers for injuries to employees, when plaintiff's negligence is slight and employer's is gross. See §35-302   No

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
FLORIDA 768.81 Yes; §768.31 Any contributory fault chargeable to claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic or uneconomic damages; §768.81   Hoffman v. Jones, 280 So. 2d 431 (1973) Yes; §768.31
GEORGIA 51-11-7 No   Claimant's contributory does not bar recovery provided his fault is less than defendant's and that by ordinary care claimant could not have avoided the consequences of defendant's negligence. However claimant's damages are diminished by amount in proportion to the amount of his fault. (§51-11-7)   Yes; §51-12-32
HAWAII 663-31 Yes; §§663-11 to 663-17   Contributory negligence or comparative responsibility does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence or comparative responsibility is not as great as defendants, but any damages are diminished in proportion to the negligence or comparative responsibility attributable to claimant (§663-31)   Yes; §§663-11 to 663-17

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
IDAHO 6-801 No   Contributory negligence or comparative responsibility does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence or comparative responsibility is not as great as defendants, but any damages are diminished in proportion to the negligence or comparative responsibility attributable to claimant (§6-801)   Yes; §6-803.
ILLINOIS 735 ILCS 5/2-1116 No   Over 50% recovery barred; under 50% damages diminished in proportion to plaintiff's percentage of fault   Yes; 740 ILCS 100/0.01, et seq.
INDIANA 34-51-2-5, et seq. No   Recovery barred if contributory negligence was greater than defendant's negligence, otherwise reduces recovery proportionately    
IOWA 668.3; 668.5 No   Contributory fault does not bar recovery unless claimant's fault is greater than defendant's, but any damages diminished in proportion to attributable fault. Goetzman v. Wichern, 327 N.W. 2d 742 (1982) Yes, §668.5

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
KANSAS 60-258a No   Contributory negligence not a bar to recovery if claimant's negligence is less than causal negligence of defendants, but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence. (§60-258a)    
KENTUCKY None No No; Failure to put child in safety restraint is statutorily not contributory negligence. (§189.125). Employee not guilty of contributory negligence where violation by carrier of state/federal safety statute contributed to injury or death. In the case were no safety statute has been violated, contributory negligence is not a bar to recovery, but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence. (277.320)   Yes; §412.030
LOUISIANA Civ. Code Art 2323 No Percentage of fault of all persons contributing is determined. If person who suffers as a result partly of his own negligence, the amount of damages reduced in proportion to% of attributable negligence.     No

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
MAINE Tit. 14 §156 No.   Claim in respect of death or damage not defeated by reason of fault the person suffering the damage, but damages reduced to extent jury thinks just and equitable. If plaintiff's fault is 50% or more, recovery is barred.   No
MARYLAND None   Not using seatbelt is not contributory negligence (Transp. §§22-412.3 & 4)     Yes; C & JP §3-1401
MASSACHUSETTS Ch. 231 §85 Ch. 231B §§1-4   Contributory negligence does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence is not greater than defendant's. But any damages allowed is diminished in proportion to claimant's attributed negligence   Ch. 231B §§1-4
MICHIGAN None   For economic damages, award is reduced proportionately to plaintiff's negligence even if greater than 50%. For non-economic damages, negligence greater than 50% bars any recovery. (§600.2959)     Yes; 600.2925c
MINNESOTA 604.01, et seq.     Plaintiff's negligence reduces recovery proportionately, but if greater than 50%, recovery is barred   No
MISSISSIPPI 11-7-15 No Contributory negligence no bar to recovery, but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence.     No.

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
MISSOURI None   In products liability cases, comparative fault is an affirmative defense. Fault shall diminish damages proportionately but does not bar recovery (537.765)     Yes; §537.060
MONTANA 27-1-702 No   Claimant's negligence does not bar recovery if less than that of defendants. Damages diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable.   Yes; §27-1-703
NEBRASKA 25-21, 185.07 to 185.12     Plaintiff's award diminishes proportionally with negligence, but negligence equal to or greater than defendant's is a total bar. (§25-21, 185.09)   No; see §25-21, 185.10
NEVADA 41.141 17.225 to 17.305   When claimant's negligence is greater than defendants, no recovery, otherwise proportionate to fault.   Yes; §§17.225 to 17.305
NEW HAMPSHIRE 507:7-d No   Contributory negligence does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence is not greater than defendant's. But any damages allowed is diminished in proportion to claimant's attributed negligence.   Yes; §507.7-f

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
NEW JERSEY 2A:15-5.1, et seq.     Contributory negligence cannot be greater than the negligence of defendants. Damages diminished by the percentage sustained of negligence attributable to claimant.   Yes; 2A:15-5.3
NEW MEXICO None 41-3-1 to 41-3-8 "Pure" comparative negligence   Scott v. Rizzo, 634 P.2d 1234 (1981) Yes; §§41-3-1 to 41-3-8
NEW YORK Civ. Prac. L. & R. §§1411, et seq.   Contributory negligence does not bar recovery but damages are diminished in proportion to the attributable conduct.     Yes; Civ. Prac. L. & R. §§1401 et seq.
NORTH CAROLINA None §1B-1 to 1B-6   Not specified   Yes; §§1B-1 to 1B-6
NORTH DAKOTA None 32-38-01 to 04   Plaintiff's negligence diminishes recovery in proportion to fault, but if greater then 50%, recovery is completely barred.   Yes; §§32-38-01 to 04
OHIO 2315.19 2307.31, 2307.33   Contributory negligence not a bar recovery if negligence was not greater than combined negligence of persons claimant seeks recovery and all other persons claimant does not seek recovery. Damages diminished in proportion to claimant's fault.   Yes; §§2307.31, 33
OKLAHOMA Tit. 23 §13-14 Tit. 12 §832   Contributory negligence cannot be greater than negligence of defendants. Damages reduced in proportion to such person's contributory negligence.   Yes; Tit. 12 §832

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
OREGON 18.470 No   Contributory negligence not a bar if fault attributable claimant is less than combined fault of defendants.   Yes; §18.440
PENNSYLVANIA Tit. 42 §7102 Tit. 42 §§8321-8327   Contributory negligence does not bar recovery if claimant's negligence is not greater than defendant's. But any damages allowed is diminished in proportion to claimant's attributed negligence.   Yes; Tit. 42 §§8321-8327
RHODE ISLAND 9-20-4 §§10-6-1 to 11 The fact that the claimant was not in the exercise of due care shall not bar recovery, but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence.     Yes; §§10-6-1 to 11
SOUTH CAROLINA None §§15-38-10 to 70 Exists only for motor vehicle accidents (§15-1-300) Not specified.   Yes; §§15-38-10 to 70
SOUTH DAKOTA 20-9-2 15-8-11, et seq.   Plaintiff's negligence diminishes recovery proportionately, but if more than "slight," recovery is completely barred (§20-9-2)   Yes; §§15-8-11 to 22
TENNESSEE None 29-11-101, et seq. Comparative negligence in reference to reviewing bank statements of accts. 47-4-406. See comparative negligence.   Yes; §§29-11-101 to 106
TEXAS Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.001 No   Plaintiff's negligence not greater than defendant's; award diminished in proportion to negligence (Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.001)   Yes; Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.012

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
UTAH 78-27-37, et. seq. No   If exceeds 50%, no recovery; otherwise diminished proportionately   No; §78-27-40
VERMONT Tit. 12 §1036     Contributory negligence not a bar if negligence was not greater that causal total negligence but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence.   No
VIRGINIA 8.01-58 (Contributory negligence is no bar to recovery in certain employee-railroad disputes.) No In an action against a common carrier, comparative negligence will not bar recovery and if carrier violated a safety code, the injured party won't be found comparatively negligent (8.01-58)     8.01-34; Contributory negligence may be applied when the wrong results from negligence and involves no moral turpitude
WASHINGTON 4.22.005 to 925 Yes; 4.22.005 to 925 Contributory fault diminishes proportionately the amount of damages, but does not bar recovery.     Yes; §4.22.040
WEST VIRGINIA None No Comparative negligence is reference to discovering and reporting unauthorized signature or alteration-bank statements (§46-4-406). Otherwise not specified. Not specified. Bradley v. Appalachian Power Co., 256 S.E.2d 879 (1979), at 885. Yes; §55-7-13
WISCONSIN 895.045 No   Contributory negligence is not a bar if claimant's negligence is not greater than defendants. Damages diminished in proportion to claimant' attributable negligence.   Yes; common law right based on equitable principles (State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. v. Continental Cas. Co., 59 N.W. 2d 425)

Table 36: Negligence—Continued

State Code Section Uniform Act Comparative Negligence Contributory Negligence—Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Judicial Imposition of Comparative Negligence Contribution Among Tortfeasors
WYOMING 1-1-109 No   Contributory fault shall not bar recovery if fault is not more than 50% of the total fault of all actors. Damages diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to claimant.   No

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