What Happens When Both Parties Are at Fault in a Car Accident?
Even when one party is primarily responsible for causing a car accident, that party might argue that the other driver shared the fault for the resulting losses and injuries. This is because, under California law, the damages that an injured driver can recover will be reduced in proportion to his or her relative fault for the accident. For example, if a driver suffers $100,000 in damages but is determined to be 20% at fault for the accident, the total damages that the driver can recover will be reduced to $80,000.
Southern California car accident victims will be able to recover a larger amount of their damages when they retain car accident lawyers that have the expertise to show that the other driver’s negligence was the predominant or complete cause of the accident and that the injured driver bore little or no-fault for the collision. The Los Angeles car accident attorneys at Ellis Injury Law have represented hundreds of southern California residents in car accident lawsuits and have helped those accident victims to recover millions of dollars in damages even when the other at-fault driver has attempted to shift part of the accident blame to them.
Who determines each party’s relative fault in a car accident lawsuit?
When a car accident lawsuit goes to trial, the jury will be charged with determining each party’s relative fault for causing the accident. The injured party’s attorney will use witness testimony and other evidence to convince the jury that the other driver was solely at fault. The lawyers for the insurance company that covers the other driver will then present their own arguments about each party’s fault. The jury’s decision will then be based on all of the evidence and on the ability of each party’s lawyer to connect that evidence with the cause of the accident.
What evidence do car accident lawyers use to show fault?
Each car accident case presents a myriad of evidence that attorneys will use both in settlement negotiations and at trial, including:
- traffic tickets or citations issued to either party
- police accident reports
- the location of the accident, and prevailing traffic and weather conditions
- the type and extent of each vehicle’s damage
- data from a vehicle’s onboard systems
- eyewitness statements and testimony from each driver
- statements from experts that re-create the accident
- phone records that show whether a driver was talking or texting at the time of the accident
In most cases, the goal of a car accident attorney is to use the evidence to demonstrate how the other driver’s negligent actions were the direct and proximate cause of the accident. The other driver’s lawyer will then attempt to prove some degree of shared fault. The jury’s final decision is usually based on which attorney presents more convincing arguments.
Will an accident victim’s fault ever prevent the recovery of damages?
In a small number of states, a car accident victim will be precluded from recovering damages if he or she was even slightly at fault for the accident. In other states, that victim will not be allowed to recover damages if he or she was more than 50% at fault. Neither of these situations will preclude recovery of damages in California. A California jury might conclude that an accident victim was 60%, 70%, or even 90% at fault for the accident, but the victim will still be entitled to recover a reduced portion of his or her damages.
Given this aspect of California law, a car accident victim should always consult with a negligence and personal injury lawyer after a vehicle collision to estimate the total compensation that he or she may be entitled to receive from the other party and that party’s insurance carriers.
Call the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law regardless of shared fault in a car accident
Southern California drivers should never assume that they have no right to recover damages after a car accident in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, regardless of arguments over who was at fault for the accident. The determination of which party caused an accident is a legal matter that is best resolved by a knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorney.
The lawyers at Ellis Injury Law are strong and aggressive advocates for California car accident victims. Please see our website or call our Los Angeles offices after your car accident to discuss who’s at fault and other issues directly with one of our lawyers before you forfeit your opportunity to recover the damages that deserve to recover.