If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, then you’ve probably got a lot on your mind. What is your recovery going to look like? How much pain and suffering are you going to have to go through? How much is your treatment going to cost? How long are you going to be out of work? These are all important questions that you need the answer to. But in the meantime you’ve probably got some sense of the damages inflicted upon you, which is why you’re probably considering taking legal action.
But as important as it is to be aggressive in seeking the imposition of liability on the driver who harmed you, it might be just as important to protect yourself against allegations of negligence.
California’s comparative fault law
California recognizes comparative negligence. This means that after the evidence is presented, a judge or jury will allocate fault to each of the parties on a percentage basis. Any judgment awarded to the plaintiff for his or her damages will then be reduced by the amount of fault allocated to him or her. So, for example, if a jury finds that your damages are worth $50,000 but you’re found to be 40% at fault, then your actual recovery will be reduced to $30,000. That’s a significant decrease.
It’s worth noting that, unlike in some other states, victims in California can still seek compensation even if they are more than 50% at fault.
What does this mean for your case?
Comparative fault means that you need to take a holistic approach to your case. You need to be prepared to aggressively present evidence of negligence and causation, but you should also be prepared to deflect attacks against your driving at the time of the accident. Attorneys who are well versed in this area of the law know how to anticipate these comparative fault arguments and counter them. That’s just one of the many reasons why you might want to talk to a legal professional before moving forward with your case.