Every state has its own unique system of determining how it will allocate damages in personal injury cases. California follows what’s called a “pure comparative negligence” rule, in which everyone involved in the case has the potential to share some amount of fault and, as a result, share the damages at stake in the case.
The effects of comparative negligence are displayed in different ways in different types of cases. For example, if you were to get into a car accident, the other driver in your case may attempt to argue that you actually were at fault. Let’s say that the other driver ran a stop sign, but you were slightly speeding at the time of your accident. If the other driver is able to prove that you were speeding, you wouldn’t collect the full amount of damages at stake in the case under comparative negligence rules.
In this situation, because you have been found to be partially responsible for the accident, it would affect the way damages are distributed. However, because the other driver’s offense of running a stop sign was far more egregious, you would share a relatively small percent of the fault in the accident (let’s say 10 percent). If you are 10 percent at fault, you lose 10 percent of the total damages. So in a $10,000 settlement, you would collect $9,000 in damages.
The general idea behind this rule is that it prevents people from bearing full financial responsibility for an accident or injury case in which they may not be fully liable themselves.
If you have any questions about California’s comparative negligence laws, meet with an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire to get the answers you need.