No one wants to get into a car accident. Unfortunately, these incidents do occur. In most cases, one or more drivers are at fault for an incident. Still, many people believe they are not able to file a personal injury claim if they had any responsibility for the accident. This is not true. Under California’s comparative negligence law, even those who contributed in some way to the car accident in California can still recover compensation for their losses.
Understanding California comparative negligence laws
Many states across the US operate under a comparative negligence law system, also commonly referred to as a comparative fault law. These laws allow for people injured in an accident to recover compensation for their damages, even if they are partly responsible for the injury.
However, not every state handles comparative fault laws the same way. In many places, a car accident victim is not allowed to recover compensation if they are 50% or 51% or more at fault for the incident. That is not the case in California.
California operates under a “pure comparative negligence system.” This means that an injury victim is able to recover compensation for damages even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident.
Will a victim receive full compensation if they share the blame?
The only time a person will receive full compensation for their injuries and property damage after an accident is if the other party was 100% at fault for the incident. However, operating under the state’s comparative negligence laws, an injury victim will see their final damage award amount reduced based on their percentage of fault.
Let us use the following scenario as an example:
- Jack comes to a four-way stop sign, stops completely, but is looking at his phone. He fails to check for oncoming traffic from other directions, but he is pretty sure that nobody else is stopped and waiting to go. Jack proceeds through the stop without knowing that an impaired driver is about to barrel through another stop at the intersection. The impaired driver strikes Jack’s vehicle, causing severe injuries to Jack.
- In this scenario, Jack files a personal injury lawsuit against the impaired driver in order to recover all $100,000 of his total medical bills. The jury agrees with the $100,000, but they also find that Jack was 10% at fault for the incident because he was operating while distracted by his phone and failed to see the approaching vehicle.
- In this scenario, Jack would receive $90,000 in total compensation. The $10,000 was taken out because the jury found that Jack was 10% at fault.
What kind of compensation is available in these cases?
Every car accident case is different, and the total amount of compensation awarded will vary depending on the facts of each particular situation. However, it is not uncommon for car accident victims in California to recover the following types of compensation for their claim:
- Coverage of all medical expenses related to the incident
- General household out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
- Lost income if a victim cannot work while they recover
- Possible punitive damages against a grossly negligent driver
For car accident cases where levels of fault are being determined, it is always a good idea to have a skilled personal injury attorney by your side who is not afraid to take on aggressive insurance carriers and has the resources to conduct a full investigation into your claim.