Comparative Negligence: After the Car Accident


After a car accident, it is important to know facts about bringing any claim against the other driver(s). Below are three facts you should know about comparative fault rules in California.

  • First, under California law, you can recover compensation from any other at-fault party, regardless of the degree of your own fault. That means that you are not prohibited from bringing a claim.
  • Second, though, California is a “pure comparative negligence” state. What does that mean? It means that any damages you are awarded from a suit you bring in court are reduced by whatever percentage a judge or jury determines you were at fault. For example, say that you were hit in the passenger side door by a car that failed to comply with a four-way stop. However, witnesses and a police report filed right after the crash indicate that you also saw that the driver failed to comply and kept on utilizing your right-of-way rather than stopping to avoid a collision. The court may find that you do bear some part of the responsibility for not driving defensively. They determine that you are 5% responsible. Therefore, although you are awarded $10,000 in this instance, your award is $9,500, as the amount of the award is decreased by the 5% that you are responsible.
  • Third, it is important to note that not only will the court—jury and a judge—be mandated to follow this law, but insurance adjusters, although not mandated, will likely follow it as well in determining amount of fault and any award.

Need to talk to a lawyer about your car accident? Please contact us.

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