Explaining Comparative Fault

Comparative Negligence Laws in California Injury Cases

How Pure Comparative Negligence Fault Applies to Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury lawsuits can arise in any number of ways, and many times they involve situations where both parties to the lawsuit are somewhat at fault for the injuries and damages that were suffered by the plaintiff. The fact of the matter is that not all personal injury lawsuits are cut-and-dry where one party is completely to blame for the result, and the laws of California have dealt with this reality with a legal concept known as comparative negligence.

Below you'll find information regarding how California comparative negligence works, how it would generally play out in a personal injury lawsuit. If you have been injured and are concerned about how you should proceed, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers for more information about your specific case.

History of California Comparative Fault

The concept of comparative negligence in California began to take on its modern form in 1975 with a case entitled, Li v. Yellow Cab Co. That case involved a traffic accident where the plaintiff made a turn across three lanes of traffic and was hit by the defendant”s vehicle which was speeding at the time. Up until that point, California had basically followed an “all or nothing” rule in which the plaintiff would not recover damages if he or she was partially at fault for the resulting damages.

This ruling changed that concept and allowed for the plaintiff to recover damages based on what would become known as a “pure” comparative fault standard. This concept has since been altered slightly with subsequent decisions to ultimately form what is known as the California comparative fault standard that”s used today.

Can You File an Injury Claim If You Are Partially at Fault?

Today, if someone is injured and he or she is partially at fault, that person can still file a California personal injury lawsuit seeking damages. However, in the “pure” comparative fault standard, that plaintiff”s damages award will be reduced by the percentage of fault that the court assigns to the plaintiff.

How California's pure comparative negligence laws work:

  • California does not cap fault at 50%, unlike in other states that follow a modified camparative fault rule. Even if you are 99% at fault for an accident, you may still be eligible to recover damages for an accident in California.
  • The greater your percentage of fault, the lower the amount you can recover. For instance, if a plaintiff is seeking $100,000 in damages and is found to be 60 percent at fault, he or she would still recover $40,000 in damages.

Regardless of how much at fault you are, you are likely to still be able to recover the portion of damages equal to the amount that you are at fault.

Discuss Your Case With Us

If you or someone you love has been harmed, even if you were partially at fault, you should seek the help of experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyers who have years of experience in winning verdicts under this system for clients. Contact the Scarlett Law Group today to schedule a free initial consultation.


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