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How is fault determined in a California PI case?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Personal Injury Law

Picture this: you are driving home after a productive day at work when, out of nowhere, you hear a bang. You’ve been hit from behind. And not only is your car damaged, you feel hurt too.

Unfortunately, car accidents are not uncommon in California. And if you are involved in one, it goes without saying that the experience can be very stressful. To hold a liable party accountable, however, you must generally prove negligence or intent. In simple English, you must prove that they were supposed to act with greater care, they were at fault and, as a result of their failures, you were hurt and incurred financial losses.

Negligence and personal injuries

Negligence is the legal concept that describes an individual or entity’s unintentional failure to exercise their duty of care, leading to harm to others. In the context of car accidents, negligence can take multiple forms such as running a red light, distracted driving, knowingly driving a faulty car, driving under the influence of alcohol or speeding. If a motorist is found negligent, they may be held liable for resulting economic, non-economic and (in some cases) punitive damages.

Comparative fault and car crashes

Every state has a statute that governs the allocation of fault following an accident. In California, this statute is known as pure comparative negligence. Per pure comparative negligence, you can recover damages even if you were 99 percent at fault. For instance, if the court awards $100,000 in damages but establishes that you were 60 percent to blame for the accident, then you can only recover $40,000 in damages from the other liable party.

Protecting your rights

Determining fault and pursuing the damages you are entitled to following a car crash requires understanding of a number of factors such as driver negligence and how the state’s car accident laws work. It also involves understanding the kind of evidence you need to present when litigating your claim. Seeking legal guidance can provide this clarity.