Auto accidents are unfortunately all too common on California roads. In the event of a crash, determining fault and liability can be complicated. In some cases, more than one party may be at fault for the accident. In California, a legal principle called comparative negligence is used to apportion fault and allocate damages among the parties involved in an accident. If you have been involved in an auto accident, it is essential to understand how comparative negligence works and how it may affect your ability to recover compensation for your losses.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal principle used in many states to determine fault and allocate damages in personal injury cases. In California, comparative negligence is governed by Civil Code section 1714.1. Under this law, if more than one party is at fault for an accident, each party's percentage of fault is determined and used to reduce the damages they can recover.
- For example, if a driver is injured in an accident and is found to be 20% at fault for the accident, the damages they can recover will be reduced by 20%. If their total damages were $100,000, they would only be able to recover $80,000.
Comparative negligence is different from contributory negligence, which was used in the past in many states. Under contributory negligence, if a plaintiff was found to be even slightly at fault for an accident, they would be barred from recovering any damages at all. Comparative negligence is a more lenient system that allows plaintiffs to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident.
How is Comparative Negligence Determined?
In California, comparative negligence is determined by a jury or judge during a trial. The parties involved in the accident may present evidence and arguments to support their position on fault. The jury or judge will then allocate fault percentages to each party involved.
It is important to note that comparative negligence applies to all parties involved in the accident, including the plaintiff. Even if the plaintiff was injured in the accident and was not at fault, their damages may still be reduced if they were found to be partially at fault for the accident. This is why it is essential to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of comparative negligence and fight for your right to maximum compensation.
How Does Comparative Negligence Affect Auto Accident Cases in California?
In California, comparative negligence can have a significant impact on auto accident cases. If you are involved in an accident and are found to be partially at fault, your damages may be reduced. This means that you may be responsible for paying a portion of your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages out of pocket.
Additionally, comparative negligence can also impact your ability to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Under California law, pain and suffering damages are only available to plaintiffs who can prove that they did not contribute to the accident in any way. If you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, you may not be able to recover any pain and suffering damages at all.
How Can You Protect Yourself After an Auto Accident in California?
If you have been involved in an auto accident in California, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your legal rights. First, seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not think you have been seriously injured. Some injuries, such as whiplash or concussions, may not be immediately apparent but can have serious long-term consequences if left untreated.
Next, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you gather evidence, build a strong case, and fight for your right to maximum compensation. Your attorney can also help you navigate the complexities of comparative negligence and work to minimize your liability for any damages you may be found responsible for.
Finally, it is important to be cautious when communicating with insurance companies after an accident. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and their primary goal is to pay out as little as possible on claims. Be wary of accepting any settlement offers from an insurance company without consulting with an attorney first. Your attorney can help you evaluate the offer and determine whether it is fair and adequate based on the specific facts of your case.
Call Flahavan Law Offices Today!
In conclusion, auto accidents can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. If you have been involved in an auto accident in California, understanding comparative negligence is essential to protect your legal rights and recover the compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Flahavan Law Offices today to learn more about how comparative negligence may affect your case and how to protect yourself going forward. Remember, you do not have to navigate the legal system alone – a skilled attorney can help you every step of the way.