Getting paid when you are partially at fault for the accident
It is not uncommon for both parties to share the fault in an accident; the compensation you receive may depend on your percentage of fault.
If your actions contributed to the accident, you would not recover total compensation for damages.
Understanding comparative negligence
Comparative negligence is a legal principle that dictates how fault is shared between the two parties directly involved in an accident where a party suffered property damage and bodily injury.
If the court finds both parties responsible for the accident, the comparative negligence rules will determine who receives compensation and the amount of money received.
Simply put, you may obtain compensation for damages from the other party involved, even when you are partially to blame for the accident. However, you must prove that your percentage of fault is less than the total fault of the other party involved, and the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you pursue an auto accident claim for $100,000 and the jury finds you 20 percent responsible for the accident, the court will reduce your compensation by 20 per cent. You will receive a total compensation of $80,000.
In what cases can the law of comparative fault apply?
In California, the law of comparative fault applies to most personal injury cases, including:
- Car accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Slips and falls
- Wrongful death
Who determines responsibility in a comparative fault case?
Generally, the jury ultimately decides responsibility in comparative fault cases, if the case gets to trial. Certain factors may influence the decision of the jury. They include witness statements, the evidence presented, medical reports, and reporting officer(s) statements.
With that said, to seek compensation, you must prove that your percentage of fault of the other party. Also, you must verify the four elements of any negligence case:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant breached the duty of care
- The breach of duty caused the accident
- You suffered damages as a result of the breach of duty
The defendant will also prove your negligence to convince the jury that you are partially at fault. If the defendant successfully proves the following, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your responsibility:
- The plaintiff was negligent
- The plaintiff's negligence was a significant factor in causing their damages
Ultimately, the court may grant you an award if your fault is less than 100%.
How can a personal injury attorney assist you?
In a comparative fault case, you need the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney.
The insurer of the other party may attempt to convince the jury that you share a higher percentage of fault.
The other party's insurance company may claim you have a higher percentage of fault. Without proper legal representation, they may bully you into admitting their claim. Your attorney will ensure the court assigns you a fair share of responsibility.
Investigate your case
Accidents can be confusing and overwhelming, and it may be challenging to know who is responsible for the accident in the heat of the moment. Your personal injury attorney can help investigate your case to determine exactly how the accident happened. Investigations may include obtaining medical records, police reports and speaking to witnesses. Your attorney may also visit the accident scene to gather evidence and consult experts.
It would help if you had the assistance of an attorney in calculating the value of damages you suffered from the accident. Your attorney will calculate your total damages and estimate the settlement amount you are entitled to receive.
Ensure you obtain maximum compensation
Even in a case of comparative negligence, you need an attorney to ensure you obtain maximum compensation. The others involved in the accident may try to shift all the blame to you. You need an attorney to help minimize your part in the accident.
What compensation can you receive?
The compensation you can receive include:
Depending on the severity of your losses, you may receive compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages, such as:
- Lost wages - you may get compensated for the income lost while recovering from injuries.
- Medical expenses- you may be compensated for present and anticipated medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering- you may receive compensation for the trauma and emotional distress the accident caused you.
- Property/vehicle damage- you may receive compensation for property damage and automobile repairs.
What happens when you share a higher percentage of fault?
California abides by pure comparative negligence laws.
Under comparative negligence laws, you can be liable for damages if your actions contribute to an accident. But you can also recover damages even when you share a higher percentage of fault.
If the other party was injured in the accident or suffered damages, they may claim damages. For example, if you were 10% responsible for the accident and weren't the only person injured, you are liable for 10% of their damages.
Contact Bojat Law Group, APC, today.
Accidents can be overwhelming and traumatizing, but you don't have to shoulder the burden alone, even when you are partially at fault for the accident.
To obtain maximum compensation, you need an attorney who understands your case and is willing to go the extra mile. Contact our personal injury attorneys to discuss your legal options and the best course of action.
Contact us now to schedule a free case evaluation.