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Understanding California’s Pure Negligence Law

What happens when an accident involves fault from multiple parties, including the injured person? In many states, this could prevent the plaintiff from receiving any compensation. However, California follows a pure comparative negligence law that allows plaintiffs to recover damages even if they were partially at fault.

This approach assigns a percentage of fault to each party involved and calculates the plaintiff’s award accordingly. While counterintuitive, this law ensures injured individuals can still seek justice and financial recovery even when they share some responsibility for the accident. Let’s learn more about this law.

California’s Pure Negligence Law

Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence Laws

California follows a comparative negligence law, which is different from the harsh contributory negligence laws still used in some states. With contributory negligence, if the affected individual is even 1% responsible for the incident, they are totally prevented from receiving any compensation regardless of how minor their role was.

Comparative negligence, on the other hand, allows injury victims to recover damages even if they share some blame for what happened. The key difference is that the amount they can receive is reduced based on their percentage of fault.

For example, if someone suffers $100,000 in damages but is found 20% responsible for the accident, they would only be able to recover $80,000 from the other party who was 80% at fault. While not ideal, this approach at least provides a path to partial recovery.

The comparative negligence system is viewed as a more fair and balanced way to handle multi-party accidents. It assigns accountability while not completely denying compensation to those who may have made a mistake that contributed to their own injuries.

What is “Pure” Comparative Negligence?

California takes a straightforward approach to comparative negligence called “pure” comparative negligence. Unlike some states that place limits, California’s law allows injury victims to recover damages no matter how much fault they share, even if they were 99% responsible for the accident.

While it may seem extreme to award compensation to someone who was largely at fault, the pure comparative negligence model simply assigns a proportional share of blame and reduces the award accordingly. So, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but were 80% at fault, your award would be $20,000 to account for the other party’s 20% liability.

This system is viewed as the fairest way to address multi-party accidents without completely denying a plaintiff’s right to recover something for their injuries, no matter how significant their role was. It encourages responsibility while avoiding extreme measures.

Determining Fault in Such Cases

Determining each person’s percentage of responsibility is a crucial process, especially when an accident involves potential fault from multiple parties. Insurance companies will conduct thorough investigations, examining evidence and recreating the sequence of events to understand how the incident unfolded.

However, insurers also have a financial incentive to minimize the fault attributed to their policyholders. As such, each party may present drastically different accounts and arguments aimed at shifting blame.

If the case proceeds to trial, a judge or jury will hear all evidence from both sides before allocating fault percentages. This impartial evaluation aims to fairly assign accountability based on the specific circumstances surrounding the accident. The court’s ruling directly impacts the amount of damages an injured plaintiff may ultimately recover.

Work With Our Dedicated Attorneys to Combat the Comparative Negligence Defense

Even though California’s pure comparative negligence law allows you to recover damages even if you were partially at fault, it is still important to work closely with our dedicated attorneys at the Personal Injury Legal Group. The reason? Insurance companies and defendants will try to pin as much blame on you as possible to reduce how much they have to pay.

Our attorneys’ job is to gather evidence and build a strong case proving the other party was primarily responsible for causing your injuries. This involves establishing four key elements:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • The defendant failed to uphold that duty (negligence)
  • This negligence directly caused the accident
  • You suffered real damages like injuries, lost income, etc.

If our lawyers can prove it’s more likely than not that the defendant was negligent and at fault based on these elements, you will be entitled to compensation. From there, they will work tirelessly to assign as little percentage of blame to you as possible.

The less fault attributed to you, the higher your financial award. So, having the experienced attorneys from Personal Injury Legal Group on your side is crucial to maximize your recovery and protect your rights under California’s pure comparative negligence system. Get in touch with us today to get the help you need.

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