What happens if both parties (plaintiff and defendant) are negligent?

In the vast majority of states a plaintiff can recover damages for a negligence action against a defendant as long as a jury determines that the plaintiff was less negligent than the defendant. Most states have adopted comparative negligence either through a statute passed by the legislature or through judicial decisions (called the common law).

Comparative negligence means that a jury compares the negligence of the defendant to the negligence of the plaintiff. It also means that the plaintiff receives a reduced amount of damages calculated by the percentage of the plaintiff’s own negligence. For example, let’s say that Driver A and Driver B are involved in a car accident that occurred after B wrongfully pulled out in front of Driver A. However, Driver A was speeding and the jury determines that A’s speeding contributed to the accident. The jury determines that A suffered $20,000 in damages but that A was 324 20% negligent.