What If the Driver Was at Fault As Well?

If the driver in a livestock accident is also partly at fault, then any recovery he can obtain from the livestock owner may be reduced, or in some cases, barred entirely.

Imagine if Bob was driving his truck at night and collided with a cow on the freeway.  Let’s assume that the owner of the cow was clearly negligent (he left the gate wide open).  However, in this example, imagine that Bob was also to blame.  Perhaps he was fiddling with his radio and not paying attention to the road when the collision occurred, or he was speaking on his cell phone, or playing video games on his new tablet.  Because of his own negligence, Bob’s recovery may be reduced, or eliminated altogether, depending on the jurisdiction.

In a comparative negligence state, even if you are partially negligent, you are still entitled to pursue your claim against the livestock owner for his negligence.  In this kind of jurisdiction, it does not matter how much at fault you are.  For example, even if the driver was 99% negligent and the livestock owner was 1% negligent, the driver would still have a claim.  However, the livestock owner would only be responsible for the portion of the damages that is equal to his fault, i.e., 1 %.  The following states are comparative negligence states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington.

In a “modified negligence state,” a plaintiff’s recovery is reduced in the same manner it is reduced in a normal comparative negligence state.  However, the difference in a modified negligence state is that the plaintiffs negligence cannot be greater than the defendant’s negligence.  So if a jury finds that Bob’s fault in the livestock accident was 50% or more, he would not be able to recover anything from the livestock owner.  However, if Bob was less than 50% at fault, Bob still has a claim against the livestock owner (although it will be reduced by the percentage of Bob’s fault).

The following states are modified negligence states: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Finally, in a “contributory negligence state,” if you shared any fault for the accident whatsoever, the plaintiff cannot prevail in a negligence claim against the livestock owner.  So even if Bob was only 1% at fault, he would be out of luck and have no claim against the livestock owner.

The following states are contributory negligence states: Alabama, Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia.

Remember, this is NOT legal advice.  Laws are always changing and you need to consult an attorney in our state immediately if you are involved in a livestock accident.