California is an exceptionally beautiful place to live; however, it also has some of the most traffic-congested areas in our country, notably the Bay Area with major cities like San Francisco and Oakland. In densely populated regions, accidents are much more prone to happen, and nationwide, there was a surge of traffic-related fatalities in 2021. In the aftermath of an accident, there are several vital steps to take, like filing a police report, visiting urgent care to treat or check for injuries, documenting damage to vehicles, filing insurance claims, and figuring out who is to blame for the collision. When involved in a crash, determining fault is always a priority, but many are unaware that it’s not always clear-cut; responsibility may be assigned to multiple parties, and a partially at-fault party may still seek and receive compensation for damages.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative fault laws or the doctrine of comparative negligence pertains to how much fault is assigned to each party involved in a collision. In California, relative negligence laws allow individuals to still recover damages from a crash, even if they partially contributed to its cause. In such cases, compensation is calculated in relation to the percentage or amount of fault. For example, in the event you are deemed to be 40 percent at fault for an accident, you would be liable for 40 percent of damages, but you will still qualify for compensation. While all states have some variation of this law, in those with modified comparative negligence rules, an individual cannot recover compensation if their fault in the accident is typically greater than 50 percent. Fortunately, California is a pure comparative fault law state, meaning an individual can still seek compensation despite being 99 percent at fault.
Comparative Negligence Defense
In car accident lawsuits or claims, comparative negligence can be utilized as a defense. A person accused of fault may argue that the victim was partially responsible for their injuries. The court or the jury determines each party’s percentage of liability in a comparative negligence case. Your compensation will be adjusted or reduced depending on how much you contributed to the accident.
Accidents may be triggered by various forms of negligence, which can impact the amount of damages you owe. A knowledgeable California car accident and personal injury law attorney can assist you in identifying the fault and pinpointing critical elements of the accident that can help your case. Some examples of negligence include but are not limited to:
- Running a traffic light or failing to yield
- Driving recklessly
- Failure to signal
- Disregarding seatbelt laws
- Ignoring pedestrian crosswalks, signs, and traffic lights
Pure comparative negligence can positively or negatively affect your case if you are partially at fault for an incident. Motor vehicle accidents, the claims process, and determining fault percentages are complex, making the process of recovering compensation both overwhelming and challenging. It can be additionally stressful when another party tries to claim they are the sole victim in a crash, and you are entirely to blame for the collision. If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, it is wise to contact an experienced Bay Area car accident lawyer right away. Schedule a free consultation today and have your questions and concerns addressed by our skilled and proficient attorney.