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What is Contributory Negligence and Does It Apply to My Lawsuit?


In a personal injury lawsuit, a defendant can potentially use contributory negligence as a defense. This defense essentially argues that, due to the partial responsibility of the plaintiff for the injuries he or she sustained, the ruling should not be made in his or her favor. For this defense to work, the defendant must effectively convince the court that the plaintiff did not behave as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances.

For example, if the plaintiff was hit by the defendant’s vehicle while attempting to cross the street, the defendant might argue that the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident because he or she was jaywalking. This can be perceived as a lack of reasonable care and might cost the plaintiff a chance at obtaining compensation.

Today, most states, including South Carolina, have adopted a modified comparative negligence approach. Through this approach, a plaintiff might still recover some damages as long as he or she is not equally responsible for the accident that resulted in his or her injuries. For example, if a driver was driving above the posted speed limit and another car was failing to maintain the lane due to a distraction, leading to a head-on collision with the speeding vehicle, he or she might be considered partially responsible for the accident and any resulting injuries. Hypothetically, a jury might choose to assign 10% of the blame to the distracted driver, allowing the injured distracted driver to still recover damages, which will be appropriately reduced.

To ensure that your right to compensation is protected, it is crucial to speak with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to conduct an independent investigation that will help build your case and ensure that liability is accurately depicted.

Charleston, SC Personal Injury Attorneys

At Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC, our South Carolina legal team is dedicated to a high standard of excellence and is prepared to fight for your right to compensation if you suffered an injury that was caused by a negligent party. Located in Charleston, we serve clients throughout the tri-county area, statewide, and even on a national scale. For experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal representation you can trust, do not hesitate to reach out to our law firm today.

Get started on your case and contact our office at (843) 968-0886 to schedule a free consultation.

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