When a victim is injured in an accident, or because of someone else’s negligent actions, they have the right to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party. Of course, accidents are not always the fault of just one person. The injured victim may have also acted negligently, which means they ultimately contributed to their own injuries. California uses comparative negligence to balance fault with the actual recovery amount that victims receive. The following information can help you learn more about this law, including how it may impact your case.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is considered a defense in personal injury cases. It may be used by either the negligent party or their insurance provider to reduce the settlement payout. To be successful in using this defense, the defendant must be able to show that the victim was at least partially responsible for the accident and that the negligent actions of the victim were a substantial factor in the accident that caused the injury. If the defendant can, in fact, provide proof, the victim’s payout amount would be reduced by the percentage of his or her fault.
As an example, a victim who is hit by an intoxicated driver may be able to seek compensation. If the victim happened to be using their cell phone behind the wheel, they could be named partially at fault for the accident. Ultimately, their payout could be reduced by the amount of their fault (i.e. a settlement of $100,000, if reduced by 40 percent for comparative fault, would amount to a $60,000 payout for the victim).
California’s Pure Comparative Negligence
Comparative fault is not the same in every state. Some states have a cap on the amount of negligence a victim can hold before they forfeit their payout (typically 50 percent). Even California used to have different rules. Previously, the state was considered a contributory one, which meant a victim could not receive compensation if they were even partially at fault for an accident (as little as 1 percent). Thankfully, that law was replaced with comparative fault in 1975. Now a victim can receive compensation for an accident, even if they are 99 percent at fault. Of course, that would mean the victim would only receive the 1 percent in damages, but in many instances, that one percent is worth pursuing.
Contact Our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact Martinez & Schill, LLP for assistance. Dedicated and experienced, our San Diego personal injury lawyers will aggressively protect your rights and fight for the most compensation possible. Learn more about how we can help with your case by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call us at 951-200-4630 today.