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What is Contributory Negligence and how Will it Affect My Case?

A: Contributory negligence is a common law doctrine that is still alive in both D.C. and Virginia. It operates as an "affirmative defense" to any negligence claim, including auto accidents. The doctrine states that, even if the accident was mainly, mostly, or almost completely, the fault of the other driver, the plaintiff loses if he was negligent at all.

Most states have abandoned this doctrine for a rule of "comparative negligence," which compares the negligence of the plaintiff and the defendant to allow for fairer verdicts.

An example will help to explain. Let's assume you have sustained $100,000 worth of injuries in a car crash that is 75% the other drivers fault and 25% your fault. In a "contributory negligence" state, the jury will be instructed to find for the defendant and you will recieve nothing. In a "comparative negligence" state, the jury will be instructed that you should recieve $100,000 discounted by your 25% negligence, and you will recieve $75,000.

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Jeremy Flachs led our complex, high value case to a successful financial settlement. We were very satisfied with his representation and could not imagine another attorney doing a better job. Multiple parties were involved, including insurance companies and hard to locate witnesses. Jeremy was on top of the details at all times, worked hard to keep costs down and responded immediately to our communications. He was also sensitive to the painful and personal nature of our case. We can recommend him without reservation. Judith Watson
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My family and I have turned to the Law Offices of Jeremy Flachs multiple times over the course of the past two decades. Mr. Flachs and his team have always been super supportive, knowledgeable, and responsive as they've helped us navigate legal hurdles. When I was just 18 years old, I was in an unfortunate car accident. Mr. Flachs, through his guidance and counsel, ensured that I received the high-quality medical care I needed. He personally assisted me through each step of the legal process, and was available to answer my questions. More recently, when my mother was in a car accident, Mr. Flachs relentlessly advocated on her behalf. My family and I have only great things to say about this firm and about Mr. Flachs and his team! Donia Ghorab
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