Comparative fault and contributory negligence can reduce or even eliminate damages altogether, depending on the law in place in the state where the injury occurred.
Let’s say that you slipped on a broken jar of mayonnaise at the grocery store and a lazy stock boy simply put a cone in front of the spill instead of immediately cleaning it up. In that scenario, a judge or jury could conceivably find that you were 40% at-fault for your injuries because you ignored the cone, but the grocery store was 60% at-fault because they failed to properly clean up or cordon off the area of the spill. Any judgment in your favor could be reduced by 40% in a state that follows comparative negligence rules, so if you were awarded $10,000 for your injuries, the judgment would be reduced to $6,000. In the handful of states that follow harsher contributory negligence rules, you won’t be able to collect anything at all from other at-fault parties if your own negligence played a role in the accident.