Vehicle Accidents Comparative Fault
When a person is involved in a California auto accident, it is in their best interest to know their legal rights. California follows comparative fault law that awards damages to the plaintiff even when he or she is partially responsible for the accident. A car accident lawyer in California can help you receive compensation even if you’re partially at fault.
Whenever there is a personal injury lawsuit, it doesn’t mean that the plaintiff-victim is always faultless. One has to understand that the plaintiff can also be partially at fault for their injury-causing event. If you admit that you were at fault to some extent, does it end your personal injury lawsuit? No, not exactly. It is where pure comparative fault (also known as pure comparative negligence) comes into play.
What is Pure Comparative Fault?
Pure comparative fault is a law that applies to accident cases to determine the degree of the plaintiff’s fault compared to the responsibility or fault of the defendant party. If you are living in any state that follows comparative fault law, you can pursue compensation from the responsible business or person even if you are partially at fault for the damages.
To fully understand pure comparative fault law, have a look at these two hypothetical scenarios:
Scenario 1: You stopped at a light, and you get rear-ended by the defendant who was driving at high speed. You have sustained injuries from the accident.
Scenario 2: The defendant was breaking traffic rules as he/she was speeding down the road. The defendant’s car crashes into your motorcycle as you were turning.
So, in scenario 1, you were following the motorcycle traffic laws, and you were not at fault. It means that you could not do anything to avoid the accident. In scenario 2, on the other hand, you could’ve tried to avoid the oncoming vehicle by checking the road before making a turn. Hence, the court may find the motorcycle driver partially at fault in this scenario. It means that the court may decide that the defendant is 65 percent at fault and the motorcycle driver are 35 percent at fault. If the court determines that a motorcycle driver partially at fault, the driver still has the right to sue the defendant to recover the damages. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help explain the intricacies of comparative fault in California.
One should understand that pure comparative fault is still quite plaintiff-friendly. Although there is some reduction in the plaintiff’s recovery, the law protects their claim. Another reason why this law is good for the plaintiff is that they still get compensation. In some states, the court completely denies the benefit if they find the plaintiff partially at fault. It is called pure contributory negligence.
Comparative Fault Law of California
There is the use of pure or modified rules in states that follow comparative fault laws. California uses pure comparative fault rules, and it means that the plaintiff still gets some compensation even if he/she has any degree of fault. If the court finds out that the plaintiff is 98% at fault, then he/she is still eligible to recover 2% of compensation. To ensure that you get the best compensation in a pure comparative fault state like California, you will need to hire the best personal injury lawyer. You could do it with an inexperienced lawyer as well, but it could mean that you will be losing a considerable chunk of your financial recovery. If you haven’t hired California personal injury lawyer yet, consider Brad Nakase. He has years of experience fighting for the rights of people who got injured in accidents. He will get you the compensation you deserve.
The Effect of Pure Comparative Fault on Your Recovery
When it comes to full comparative fault law in California, the amount of money you can recover depends on two key aspects:
- Your injury claim’s total value
- The extent of your involvement in the accident
Under the rules of pure comparative fault, you can file for compensation even if you are at fault. However, the recovery will solely depend on the percentage of your role in the accident. Take the example of Steve. He went to a local store to buy some bread and milk. Someone spilled a cold drink on the floor. The store sweeper noticed the hazard of the wet floor and immediately went to get a mob. As other shoppers were cautious of going near the wet floor, Steve didn’t notice it and slipped. As a result of the fall, he broke his arm and couldn’t work for about two months. Now Steve had to pay for the medical bills and the treatment. So, he filed a claim of $10,000 with the local store’s insurance company. Steve claimed that the local store was responsible for his injury as they couldn’t clean the floor on time. The adjuster agrees with Steve but also argues that he should’ve been more careful like other shoppers. The adjuster decides that the local store is 60 percent at fault, and Steve is 40 percent at fault. Hence, there is a $4,000 reduction from Steve’s compensation, and he receives $6,000 from the store’s insurance company. If it had been any other state which follows pure contributory negligence, Steve wouldn’t be receiving any compensation for the damages.
Your Evidence is Your Biggest Ally
If you want to make a stronger claim, you need to ensure that you collect all the crucial evidence.
As soon as you get into an accident, you should waste no time in calling 911. Don’t try to go to the hospital yourself. If the paramedics arrive, don’t do anything that might delay the treatment. It is because the insurance company can make a point that your deliberate attempts to delay the treatment made your injuries worse.
Always Speak in The Presence of Your Attorney
Make sure that you do not apologize or admit your fault. You have to be extra careful when it comes to answering the questions. If the insurance company tries to ask you any questions, don’t answer them. Call your personal injury attorney and provide answers in his or her presence. Keep in mind that giving a recorded statement could hurt your claim as the defendant’s attorney might use it against you.
Gather Contact Information
Witness statements are inarguably the most convincing evidence that can work in your favor is. Ask for witnesses’ names and contact information so that your personal injury lawyer can approach them later in the case.
Take Photographs from Different Angles
If you believe that you are in a condition to take photographs, gather all the data on your smartphone in the form of videos and photos. For instance, take pictures of the blood on the ground or broken glass. Anything that can depict your suffering is helpful.