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How Does Comparative Negligence in California Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

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If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with another party and it resulted in you sustaining personal injuries, you may have the right to receive compensation. This is especially important if you’re suffering from more serious repercussions, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI).

However, it can be challenging to determine who is at fault for an accident. Say you sustained TBI from being hit by a car as you crossed the road, but you also weren’t using the crosswalk. In this scenario, both you and the driver may have contributed to the accident

In California, as well as other states, the blame for negligence is fairly distributed through what is called comparative negligence.

The Different Negligence Doctrines

Negligence-based lawsuits, especially involving personal injury, determine each party’s negligence in two ways:

  1. Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence used to be a common-law doctrine by which the personal injury victim or a plaintiff could not qualify for financial compensation if they were found even slightly responsible for their own injuries. Fortunately, most states have moved from this doctrine, with only Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia still following the rule.

  1. Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence holds both the plaintiff and the defendant responsible for the damages their actions caused. If there is evidence that both parties have been negligent, the court will determine the plaintiff’s percentage of fault and subtract the equivalent amount from the compensation he or she will receive. Most states, including California, have adopted this doctrine.

Comparative Negligence in California

California’s comparative negligence system allows a defendant to raise a partial defense by proving that the plaintiff was partially at fault for their own injuries. At the same time, it also allows the plaintiffs to recover damages even when they’re partially at fault.

Following the example above, let’s say you sued the driver of the car for negligence. Your brain injury lawyer presented evidence that the driver failed to exercise duty of care while driving in Los Angeles and now, they owe you $100,000 for damages. The driver can reduce the amount they have to pay you by proving that you were also partially at fault for your injuries because you didn’t use a proper crosswalk to cross the street where the collision happened.

The court may then find you 10 percent responsible and the driver 90 percent responsible. This means you will receive $90,000 instead of the entire $100,000 due to your partial responsibility for your injuries.

This is not always the case, however. There are two types of comparative negligence:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence

In jurisdictions that follow pure comparative negligence, plaintiffs can receive compensation for their injuries and other damages no matter how negligent they were. Say, your degree of fault is at 85 percent. You can still receive 15 percent compensation.

  • Modified Comparative Negligence

In states that follow modified comparative negligence, the plaintiff can only get compensation when their fault is less than the defendant’s. This means you must be less than 50 percent responsible for the accident for you to get compensated.

Getting Help for Personal Injury Claims

Proving negligence is one of the most complicated processes in personal injury cases in Los Angeles. If you’re seeking legal assistance, the experienced personal injury attorneys from Haffner Law can help. We can help you get the full, rightful compensation for your injuries. Contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER for a free consultation.

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