Virginia Should Abolish the Archaic Tort Defense of Contributory Negligence and Adopt a Comparative Negligence Defense in Its Place

Peter Nash Swisher *                                 

Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the plaintiff, contributing as a proximate cause to the tortuous harm the plaintiff has suffered, which falls below the standard of care to which the plaintiff is required to conform for his or her own protection. When contributory negligence is found, it constitutes a complete defense to the plaintiff’s negligence cause of action, even though the defendant’s negligence may have greatly exceeded the plaintiff’s negligence.

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*   Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law; J.D., 1973, University of California, Hastings College of Law; M.A., 1967, Stanford University; B.A., 1966, Amherst College.