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Pure contributory negligence can affect Washington, D.C., cases

Those who are involved in an accident that they feel was caused by another person's negligence might wonder if they have a case to seek compensation from the liable party. Part of that answer depends on the principles of contributory and comparative negligence, depending on where the accident occurred. In Washington, District of Columbia, the principle used to determine if someone seeking compensation is eligible for a monetary award is called pure contributory negligence.

Pure contributory negligence means that if a person was as little as 1 percent at fault for the accident, they aren't eligible to receive compensation. In the simplest form, this means that if a person contributed at all to the accident, they can't receive damages.

An example of how this might affect a claim for compensation has to do with a pedestrian accident. Assume that a pedestrian crosses the street in an area that isn't marked as a crosswalk. The pedestrian is stuck by a car. The pedestrian would have at least a partial fault for causing the accident because he or she didn't cross the street in a posted crosswalk. That means that in Washington, DC, he or she is ineligible to receive damages for his or her injuries.

The principle of pure contributory negligence is one that can often seem troublesome. For a person who was injured in an accident, sorting through the evidence and looking at everything surrounding the accident might give he or she an insight about whether he or she should seek compensation or not. Because the standards are so strict in DC, those who think they have a case should determine how to test the case against the standards.

Source: FindLaw, "Contributory and Comparative Negligence" accessed Mar. 10, 2015

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