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What is the “Modified Comparative Fault Rule?” How Does it Affect My Case?

The right to collect compensation for wrongs suffered due to the negligence of others is a basic protection guaranteed in every U.S. state. The basis for all such lawsuits is the assignment of fault, but each state has its own system for allocating damages once a fault-level has been determined. The system used in Colorado, “the modified comparative fault rule,” has the potential to diminish or even eliminate a claim.

THE FOUR FAULT RULES

To better understand the impact of Colorado’s system, we must put it in proper perspective by examining the systems used elsewhere.

  1. 1. The first, and harshest, system is called “pure contributory negligence.” Under this rule, even the slightest amount of fault assigned to the injured party eliminates the claim. Only four states and the District of Columbia use this system.
  2. 2. The remaining three systems all take note of the relative fault of the plaintiff and the defendant and are called “comparative fault systems.” Pure comparative fault, used in 12 states, adheres to the exact percentage in every instance. Even if the plaintiff is 99% at fault, he could still seek damages for the 1% fault assigned to the defendant.
  3. 3. South Dakota has a system all its own, known as “the slight/gross negligence comparative fault rule.” A partially at-fault defendant is only allowed to collect on a claim if the defendant’s negligence is deemed ”gross” and his own “slight.”
  4. 4. The remaining 33 states, including Colorado, use a modified comparative fault rule. This rule bans all claims if the plaintiff’s fault is 50% or greater. Otherwise, the plaintiff’s claim is diminished by the percentage of fault assigned to him.

OTHER RELEVANT RULES

Colorado compares the combined fault of all defendants against the plaintiff, rather than comparing them individually. The modified comparative fault rule is generally applied to all tort actions in Colorado, including personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. There is also a two year statute of limitations from the date that the injury and its cause were both known or should have been known with the exercise of due diligence.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A SKILLED ATTORNEY

To obtain the maximum reimbursement for the wrong your have suffered, it is imperative to obtain the services of a skilled attorney. Sloat and Nicholson personal injury attorneys in Boulder have years of experience securing full and fair compensation for claims filed in the Boulder, CO, area and beyond.

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