Fistfights are a fact of life. Someone says the wrong thing at the wrong moment, and, suddenly, two people are throwing punches at each other. If someone attacks you without provocation, you can usually hold the person liable for your injuries in civil court, but what if you consent to fight someone and the two of you engage in mutual combat? You can still sue the other person for compensation for your damages and losses, but you may not collect much money. Here's why that is.
Assignment of Contributory or Comparative Negligence
The biggest thing working against you in your case is the fact that you consented to fight the other combatant. Because of this, the court may feel you contributed to your injuries based on the idea that if you hadn't agreed to fight the other person, you wouldn't have suffered harm. As a result, the court may assign a percentage of liability to you. This can cause you to receive a lower amount of money or prevent you from collecting any cash at all, depending on where you live.
If you reside in a state that uses a comparative negligence model, your damage award will be reduced by the amount of liability assigned to you. So if the judge found you to be 60 percent responsible for the fight, you will only receive 40 percent of what you're asking for. In states that use a contributory negligence model, you will be barred from collecting anything if the percentage of liability assigned to you hits a certain level. For instance, in Maryland, you won't collect any money if you are found to be 1 percent liable for the incident. Other states may have higher limits (e.g. 51 percent).
May Be Possible to Get Full Amount
Having said that, though, it may still be possible to get the full amount you're due. If the other person provoked you into fighting, the judge may assign little to no liability to you. For instance, the other person threatens to harm a third-party unless you agree to fight him or her. You could use the Defense of Others doctrine to justify your actions, but you'll need to show you had a reasonable belief the combatant would actually hurt the other person.
You may also be able to get more money if the fight is unfair. For example, the two of you start out fighting with your fists, but then the other combatant whips out a machete and begins slashing you. You could make an argument that the introduction of a weapon changed the dynamics of the fight and caused you to sustain more damage than if the two of you had continued fighting unarmed.
This type of case can be tough to litigate, so it's a good idea to hire a personal injury attorney to help you. Contact experts like Schey Piller Alspaugh & Wong Pc for more information or assistance.