What is Contributory Fault?

Contributory fault is a legal theory of dividing or barring damages based on a person’s percentage of fault for causing an accident. Nevada has enacted laws using a modified comparative negligence standard, which is less harsh than contributory fault. In Nevada, contributing to the cause of your injury could reduce the amount of money you can recover in a personal injury case. 

You Must Prove Fault to Recover Damages in a Nevada Personal Injury Case 

You must prove that the at-fault party caused your injuries in Nevada personal injury cases, including those involving car accidents, slips and falls, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and truck accidents. Proving fault is essential to recover damages in your case. You can’t recover money if you cannot prove fault. 

Negligence is the basis for many personal injury claims. 

To prove negligence, you must have evidence establishing:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • The defendant breached the duty of care through acts or omissions by failing to use a reasonable level of care
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
  • You sustained damages because of the breach of duty

If you prove that the defendant caused your injury, you should be entitled to receive compensation for your economic damages. In a personal injury case, financial losses include medical bills, nursing care, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses.

You could also receive compensation for your non-economic damages. These damages include diminished quality of life, permanent impairments, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

What Is the Difference Between Contributory Fault and Comparative Negligence?

Contributory fault or contributory negligence is a common law rule that most states have replaced with comparative negligence. Only four states and the District of Columbia still use contributory fault. 

Under contributory fault, you cannot recover any money if you contributed in any way to your accident or injury. In other words, if you are 5% at fault and the other party is 95% at fault, you would receive no money for your injuries and damages.

Comparative negligence is not as harsh. Under the theory of comparative negligence, an injured party can still recover compensation for damages even if they are partially responsible for the cause of their injuries. However, a person cannot recover full compensation for all damages if they contributed to the cause of the accident. 

Under pure comparative negligence, your compensation is reduced by your percentage of fault. It does not matter if you are more or less at fault for the cause of your accident. Therefore, if a jury finds you 45% to blame for the accident, your compensation is reduced by 45%.

Understanding Nevada’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law

Nevada adopted a modified comparative negligence law. Therefore, if you are partially to blame for the cause of your injury, the court can reduce your compensation for damages by your level of fault.

However, Nevada’s modified comparative negligence law has a 51% bar. Therefore, if you are 51% or more at fault for the cause of an accident, you cannot recover any money for your claim. Therefore, if you were 55% to blame, you would receive no money for your damages. 

What Can I Do to Avoid Allegations of Comparative Fault?

Insurance companies understand Nevada’s law regarding comparative negligence. Therefore, if insurance adjusters cannot find ways to deny claims, they try to find a way to shift some of the blame to the injured victims. Doing so can lower the amount they must pay to resolve the claim.

Steps you can take to protect yourself from allegations of comparative negligence include:

  • Do not admit fault at the accident scene, including apologizing for the accident.
  • Do not discuss the accident or injury with anyone at the accident site.
  • Make notes about surveillance, traffic, or other video equipment that might have captured the accident. 
  • Take photographs and make a video of the accident scene to use as evidence in your case.
  • Exchange contact information with bystanders and witnesses.
  • Avoid talking to insurance adjusters or claims investigators. Instead, refer them to your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer.
  • Record everything you can remember about the accident while the details are fresh on your mind to give to your accident attorney.

Contact a Las Vegas accident lawyer for a free consultation as soon as possible at (702) 570-9000. A lawyer will protect you from aggressive insurance adjusters who want to blame you for your injury. They’ll also handle all communications with the insurance company so that you don’t need to worry about saying something that could be used to allege comparative fault.