How Fault in a Car Accident Affects Compensation
A car accident typically occurs in a matter of seconds. It is not unusual for events to happen so quickly that those involved in the accident – whether they are drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians – to be unclear on what exactly happened, much less who is at fault. Or, just as often, various individuals’ accounts of who was to blame for the accident can be all over the map with all kinds of open questions: Was a driver tailgating? Was a pedestrian jaywalking? Did a bicyclist fail to stop at a stop sign? All of these questions go to the question of fault, and fault is a critically important aspect of recovering compensation in your California car accident claim.
Proving Fault is Required to Recover Anything
Car accident claims are governed by state law, and many states have what is called a “no-fault law” for car accidents which takes the question of driver fault out of the equation for processing many claims. California is not one of those states. To collect a monetary recovery from a driver’s insurance company, an injured party must prove that the other driver was at least partially at fault in causing the accident.
To prove fault, the injured party will need to show that another driver was negligent, causing injury. This could be demonstrated by proving that the accused driver failed to follow the rules of the road by not stopping at a red light, driving in the wrong lane, or simply following another driver too closely. Your car accident attorney will investigate the accident and collect all relevant physical evidence and testimony to support your claim that the other party was at fault in causing the accident.
You Can Recover Even if You Were At Fault
It is not at all uncommon to have a situation where both the injured party and the defendant were at fault in causing the plaintiff’s injuries, meaning both failed to take due care to avoid the accident. For example, if a pedestrian jaywalks on a one-way street, and a car travelling the wrong way down the street hits the pedestrian, the argument could be made that both were negligent.
But, in California, the injured plaintiff can nevertheless recover for at least part of his or her injuries based on the state’s “pure comparative negligence system.” Under such a system, a plaintiff can recover for the percentage of his or her damages proportionate to the percentage of fault attributable to the defendant. Taking the above example of the jaywalking pedestrian and wrong-way driver, if the plaintiff suffered $1,000,000 in damages and the court found that the pedestrian was 20% at fault and the driver was 80% at fault, then the pedestrian could recover $800,000 from the driver (in other words, 80% of the $1,000,000).
Contact a Southern California Personal Injury Attorney
When you work with a personal injury attorney, you can expect a trusted legal adviser and guide by your side. By contacting an attorney as soon as possible after your car accident, he or she can immediately step into action to begin investigating the accident, gathering evidence, and working with your medical provider to build your best case for maximum recovery.