How Comparative Negligence Impacts Personal Injury Claims

What if you shared some of the blame for your personal injury? Determining the percentage of shared fault and liability in car accidents or other personal injury cases can be complex. Multiple parties may have contributed to what happened. 

Some people are under the impression that if they contributed in any way to an accident, they cannot pursue compensation from the other party. While this may be true in some states, it’s not in Nebraska. In this state, the rule of comparative negligence means you can pursue compensation even if you were partially at fault for an accident. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident contributed to or caused by someone else’s negligence, the personal injury lawyers of Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop are here to help you recover compensation for your losses. Call us today at (402) 241-5020 to schedule a FREE case review. 

What Is Comparative Negligence?

In states like Nebraska, where comparative negligence rules apply, accident victims can recover compensation for damages from the party who has harmed them. However, the compensation received will be reduced based on the victim’s contribution to the accident. 

Unlike contributory negligence in some other states, which prohibits recovery if the plaintiff is found to have any degree of fault, the rule of comparative negligence allows for compensation even if the plaintiff is partly to blame for the incident.

Nebraska’s Comparative Negligence Law

Nebraska follows the modified comparative negligence rule with a 50 percent bar. This means that an injured party’s recoverable damages will be reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of fault. An injured person can recover compensation for damages as long as he or she is not 50 percent or more at fault. 

What if a plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or more responsible for causing an injury or accident? In that case, he or she will then not be able to recover compensation from the other party.

Types of Personal Injury Cases Affected By Nebraska Comparative Negligence Laws

Nebraska’s modified comparative negligence law can affect your ability to recover compensation in a variety of personal injury accidents. Consider a few examples and how modified comparative negligence laws could affect yours. 

Motor vehicle accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common types of personal injury claims. According to a report from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, our state had over 17,000 motor vehicle crash injuries between 2016 and 2019. 

Often, car accidents are the result of more than one contributing factor. It could be that multiple drivers failed to take proper safety precautions. 

Consider an example: Driver A rear-ends Driver B, who was stopped at an intersection. Driver A was tailgating. However, Driver B had a broken tail light, impairing Driver A’s visibility. Therefore, both parties share some degree of fault for the car accident. 

Suppose the court determines that Driver A is 75 percent at fault for following too closely, and Driver B is 25 percent at fault for the broken taillight. Driver B can still recover compensation for damages, but the amount received will be reduced by 25 percent. This means that if the court awards Driver B $1,000 in damages, he or she will get only $750. 


Slip-and-fall accidents are another common type of personal injury claim impacted by comparative negligence laws. In most of these situations, property owners are liable for damages when someone is injured on their property. 

However, a property owner may try to place some of the blame on the slip and fall victim. When accident victims are assigned a percentage of blame, the compensation they are awarded will be reduced based on their share of fault. 

Common arguments defendants use in slip and fall cases to establish comparative negligence are:

  • You failed to follow warnings about the dangerous property condition
  • You were distracted and not paying attention to where you were walking
  • The hazardous property condition was clearly visible
  • You were trespassing on the property
  • You were not wearing appropriate footwear, and your footwear caused the accident

Let’s say that you slipped and fell in a grocery store aisle because of a spill that was not promptly cleaned up. Video surveillance cameras at the store reveal that you were distracted by your phone at the time of your fall, not paying attention to your surroundings. 

The court may assign you 20 percent of the fault, and the grocery store owner 80 percent. So if you are awarded $10,000 in damages, you will receive $8,000 after the 20 percent reduction.

Defective products

Manufacturers and distributors have an obligation to produce and distribute goods that are safe for consumers. If you were harmed by a defective product, you have the right to file a personal injury claim for compensation against the company that made the product. 

As with other types of personal injury claims, comparative negligence laws can impact the outcome of your case. The manufacturer may accuse you of modifying the product or failing to use it as intended. 

Suppose you were injured while using a power tool. The court rules that you are partially responsible for not using the tool as intended. However, the manufacturer is also to blame for failing to provide adequate instructions. Your compensation will be reduced by your liability percentage. 

A Nebraska Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Build a Strong Case

To navigate the complexities of Nebraska’s comparative negligence laws for a successful case, it is crucial to establish the other party’s negligence while minimizing your own role in causing your injuries. 

Collecting evidence can strengthen your claim and help demonstrate that the other party played a greater role in the accident. The types of evidence your personal injury lawyer collects will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. 

Examples of evidence commonly used in the personal injury cases discussed in this article include:

  • Evidence for motor vehicle accident cases: Police reports, eyewitness statements, video or dashcam footage, accident reconstructionist diagrams, and photos from the accident scene
  • Evidence for slip and fall cases: Accident reports, eyewitness testimony, footwear worn at the time of the incident, video footage, and reports of previous incidents on the property 
  • Evidence for defective product cases: Product testing results and reports, the actual product that caused harm, photos of the defective product, medical records, and video footage of the incident if available 

We Can Answer Your Comparative Negligence Questions for Free

If you have been involved in an accident and are considering pursuing compensation, it is important to understand how comparative negligence impacts your personal injury claim in Nebraska. 

While knowing that you can still pursue compensation even if you bear some degree of fault may be reassuring, navigating the complexities of comparative fault laws can be overwhelming. Recovering fair compensation requires strong evidence, an accurate assessment of your losses, and skilled legal representation. 

Our personal injury attorneys will be glad to answer any questions you have about comparative negligence and your personal injury case. We take personal injury cases on contingency, meaning that you pay no upfront fees and we don’t take any payment unless we win your case. 

Contact our law firm to schedule a FREE consultation. Call us at (402) 241-5020 or complete the contact form here on our website. We serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and all of Nebraska and Iowa.

by Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
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