Seeking compensation in the aftermath of a serious car accident can vary from state to state, especially as negligence laws vary greatly across the country. Each state has differing laws in regard to negligence and how that factors into the amount of compensation you can receive for your damages.

What negligence laws does your state follow? With the help of visual data firm 1Point21 Interactive, we crafted an interactive map that gives a state-by-state breakdown of negligence laws in the US, highlighting the laws and limits each may have.

Hover over each state to see what type of negligence law they follow, and any other notable information.

 

Types of Negligence Law

There are generally two different types of negligence law: contributory negligence and comparative negligence.

Contributory Negligence Laws

In a state with contributory negligence laws, drivers who have contributed to the cause of an accident in any way are legally prohibited from recovering compensation for their damages. For example, even if you are just 1% responsible for a car accident, you are automatically disqualified from pursuing any compensation from the other party.

These restrictions have often been criticized for being antiquated and unfair to drivers in general. Therefore, only four states – Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia – plus the District of Columbia follow the contributory negligence law.

Comparative Negligence Laws

Comparative negligence laws allow all drivers to pursue compensation for any damages, even if they are at fault. However, this amount of compensation recovered may scale with the degree of fault you may have in the accident.

Comparative negligence laws can be categorized in two ways: pure and modified.

  • Pure comparative negligence allows you to seek compensation regardless of how much fault you have in the accident. However, your recovery will be reduced based on your degree of fault in the accident. For example, if you were 80% responsible for the accident, you are only legally able to recover compensation for the 20% fault of the other party.
  • Modified comparative negligence laws allows you to seek compensation only if your percentage of fault is under a set threshold. Some states cap this at 50%, while others cap it at 51%. This means that you are only able to recover compensation if you are 49% or less or 50% or less at fault, respectively.

Currently, 13 states have pure comparative negligence laws, while the remaining 33 have modified comparative negligence laws.

Of those 33, 10 states follow a 50% threshold of fault, while 23 follow a 51% threshold.

  State

  Negligence?

  Code

  Notes

Alabama Contributory  (ARCP, Rule 8(c) Plaintiff may not recover if he or she contributed to the accident in any way.
Alaska Pure comparative Alaska Stat. §§ 09.17.060-080 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Arizona Pure comparative A.R.S. § 12-2505 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Arkansas Modified comparative A.C.A. § 16-64-122 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
California Pure comparative Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 532 P.2d 1226 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Colorado Modified comparative C.R.S. § 13-21-111 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Connecticut Modified comparative C.G.S.A. § 52-572(h) Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Delaware Modified comparative 10 Del. C. § 8132 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
District of Columbia Contributory Wingfield v. People’s Drug Store, 379 A.2d 685 Plaintiff may not recover if he or she contributed to the accident in any way.
Florida Pure comparative F.S.A. § 768.81(2) Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Georgia Modified comparative O.C.G.A. §§ 51-11-7, 51-12-33 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Hawaii Modified comparative Haw. Rev. Stat. § 663-31 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Idaho Modified comparative Idaho Code § 6-801 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Illinois Modified comparative 735 I.L.C.S. § 5/2-1116 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Indiana Modified comparative I.C. § 34-51-2-6 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Iowa Modified comparative I.C.A. § 668.3(1)(b) Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Kansas Modified comparative K.S.A. § 60-258a(a) Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Kentucky Pure comparative K.R.S. § 411.182 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Louisiana Pure comparative L.S.A. – C.C. Art. 2323 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Maine Modified comparative 14 M.R.S.A. § 156 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Maryland Contributory Garrett County v. Bell Atlantic, 695 A.2d 171 Plaintiff may not recover if he or she contributed to the accident in any way.
Massachusetts Modified comparative M.G.L.A. 231 § 85 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Michigan Modified comparative M.C.L.A. § 600.2959 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Minnesota Modified comparative M.S.A. § 604.01(1) Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Mississippi Pure comparative M.C.A. § 11-7-15 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Missouri Pure comparative Gustafson v. Benda, 661 S.W.2d 11 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
Montana Modified comparative Mont. Stat. § 27-1-702 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Nebraska Modified comparative Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 25-21, 185.11 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Nevada Modified comparative N.R.S. § 41-141 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
New Hampshire Modified comparative N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 507:7(d) Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
New Jersey Modified comparative N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.1 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
New Mexico Pure comparative Scott v. Rizzo, 634 P.2d 1234 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
New York Pure comparative N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1411 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
North Carolina Contributory Smith v. Fiber Controls Corp., 268 S.E.2d 504 Plaintiff may not recover if he or she contributed to the accident in any way.
North Dakota Modified comparative N.D.C.C. § 32-03.2-02 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Ohio Modified comparative Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2315.33 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Oklahoma Modified comparative Okla. Stat. Ann. Tit. 23 § 13 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Oregon Modified comparative Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 31.600 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Pennsylvania Modified comparative 42 P.S. § 7102 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Rhode Island Pure comparative R.I.G.L. § 9-20-4 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
South Carolina Modified comparative Ross v. Paddy, 340 S.C. 428, 532 S.E.2d 612 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
South Dakota Slight-gross negligence comparative S.D.C.L. § 20-9-2 Plaintiff may only recover if they displayed “slight” negligence and the other party displayed “gross” negligence.
Tennessee Modified comparative McIntyre v. Balentine, 833 S.W.2d 52 Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Texas Modified comparative Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Ann. §§ 33.001-33.017 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Utah Modified comparative U.C.A. § 78B-5-818(2) Plaintiffs may not recover if they are found 50% or more at fault.
Vermont Modified comparative Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 12, § 1036 Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Virginia Contributory Baskett v. Banks, 45 S.E.2d 173 Plaintiff may not recover if he or she contributed to the accident in any way.
Washington Pure comparative R.C.W.A. §§ 4.22.005-015 Plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his share of the fault.
West Virginia Modified comparative W. Va. Code § 55-7-13a-d Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Wisconsin Modified comparative Wis. Stat. § 895.045(1) Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.
Wyoming Modified comparative Wyo. Stat. § 1-1-109(b) Plaintiffs cannot recover compensation if they are found 51% or more at fault.

South Dakota Has Unique Negligence Laws

South Dakota is the only state in the country that utilizes a hybrid of both comparative and contributory negligence laws. Known as “slight/gross negligence comparative” law, this states that a party may be able to recover damages only if their fault was “slight” and the other party’s fault was “gross.” If such a significant distinction cannot be made, then the party is legally barred from recovering damages from the other party.

This system has been a subject of great scrutiny, as there are no precise standards for what defines “slight” negligence and “gross” negligence. Therefore, in a legal setting, it can be incredibly difficult to determine who is able to recover compensation from who.

Negligence vs Fault-Based Laws

Negligence law is the basic foundation by which most compensation is determined in each state. Generally, most negligence laws help to determine who is liable for an accident that occurred – and then determine how that may impact a party’s recovery for any damages that they have suffered.

It is important to note that negligence laws and fault-based laws are generally independent of each other. Although the basis of fault and no-fault states serves to inform the types of compensation a party may recover from another party, they are not dependent on each other when seeking recovery for damages.

For example, fault-based laws typically only apply to compensation as a result of bodily harm, injury, or death in an accident – not to other economic losses such as property damage. While negligence laws do follow these general guidelines, they also have their own set of limitations and criteria that may differ from state to state.

Closing Thoughts

These negligence laws serve has a general guideline to what laws affect compensation in each state. Many of these states have unique limitations and provisions that may prevent victims from recovering the compensation that they believe they are entitled to. For example, some states do not apply these laws to product liability claims, which have their unique provisions.

This, combined with the additional complexities inherent in a state’s fault systems, can make filing a claim or seeking compensation all the more convoluted. Therefore, we always recommend seeking the counsel of an experienced attorney to answer any questions you may have about the claims process in your state.