Last Updated 5/21/09
COMPARATIVE FAULT SYSTEMS IN ALL 51 JURISDICTIONS
Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C. has compiled a list of the various laws in every state dealing with
whether the state is a contributory negligence state (bars recovery with only 1% of fault by the plaintiff) or
a comparative negligence state (recovery by plaintiff is reduced or prohibited based on the percentage of
fault attributed to the plaintiff), and whether the state is a pure comparative or modified comparative state.
This list is useful in evaluating subrogation potential where there may be contributory negligence on the
insured’s part. Please bear in mind that there are many exceptions within each state with regard to whether
the particular fault allocation scheme applied in a state is applicable to a particular cause of action. Some
states limit the application of the scheme to negligence claims, and avoid applying it to product liability
cases, while other states have effective dates which may come into play and/or have rules which may
modify the application of the particular scheme referenced. This list should be used only as a guideline,
and questions regarding specific fact situations should be directed to one of our subrogation lawyers.
Comparative fault systems fall into one of three basic types: contributory, pure, and modified
negligence. The comparative fault standards for the 51 jurisdictions break down as follows:
Only five (5) states recognize the pure contributory negligence rule, which says that a damaged party
cannot recover any damages if it is even 1 percent at fault.
Alabama Power Co. v. Schotz, 215 So.2d 447
District of Columbia
Wingfield v. People’s Drug Store, 379 A.2d 685
Board of County Comm’r of Garrett County v. Bell
Atlantic, 695 A.2d 171 (Md. 1997).
Smith v. Fiber Controls Corp., 268 S.E.2d 504