In the world of personal injury law, the term 'negligence' gets thrown around quite frequently. However, when you add 'comparative' to that term, it might leave some scratching their heads. Understanding comparative negligence is vital for anyone involved in a personal injury case in California, as it can significantly affect the outcome of your claim
What is Comparative Negligence?
First, let's dissect these terms. Negligence, in legal terms, refers to the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances. In a personal injury case, proving negligence is often key to securing compensation.
Comparative negligence, on the other hand, is a specific type of negligence that recognizes that multiple parties may share the fault in an accident. The "comparative" part refers to the degree to which each party is at fault.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work in California?
California follows what is known as 'pure comparative negligence.' This system allows a damaged party to recover even if they were 99% at fault in an accident, albeit with their compensation reduced according to their degree of fault.
Let's consider a scenario for better understanding. Say you were involved in a car accident in Los Angeles where you were speeding slightly over the limit. The other driver, however, was texting while driving. The court may find that you were 20% at fault for speeding, while the other driver was 80% at fault for their distracted driving. If your total damages amounted to $100,000, your recovery would be reduced by your 20% fault. So you would only receive $80,000.
How is Fault Determined?
Fault determination can be complex and typically involves an analysis of evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photographs, and expert testimony. Legal professionals often play a vital role in presenting this evidence and arguing for the lowest possible percentage of fault on their client's part. If you're involved in a personal injury case, having a lawyer who understands the intricacies of California's comparative negligence law is crucial.
How Can This Impact Your Personal Injury Claim?
Comparative negligence can have a significant impact on your personal injury claim. The greater your percentage of fault, the less compensation you will be able to recover. Additionally, if you're dealing with an insurance company, they may try to argue that you bear more of the blame in order to reduce the payout they have to make.
Navigating the intricacies of comparative negligence can be challenging, especially when you're also dealing with the aftermath of an accident. The key takeaway is that even if you bear some fault in an accident in California, you still have the right to seek compensation.
This blog only skims the surface of the depth of personal injury law and comparative negligence in California. Each case is unique, and having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident and you believe comparative negligence may come into play, contact Phillips & Associates for a free consultation today. You will immediately be put in touch with John Phillips or Patrick DiFilippo, who can help determine whether you have a case and advise you on the best course of action moving forward.