What If I Was Partly at Fault for the Accident?
It’s a common scenario: one motorist makes an unsafe lane change without checking their blind spot first. Another driver, who is already late for work and going over the speed limit, fails to brake in time as the other driver cuts in front and rear-ends the lane changer. Both drivers are partly responsible for the collision, so what happens next?
Many people wonder if they can seek damages against a negligent motorist even they were partly at fault for the accident. The answer is yes if you live in California. Like many states, California has adopted a doctrine of pure comparative negligence that applies to accidents where more than one person or party is at fault. The laws here are more lenient, allowing car accident victims to seek money damages as long as they were not 100 percent liable for the incident. This is good news for residents, as some states bar accident victims from seeking legal recovery even if they are only 1 percent at fault.
California is a pure comparative negligence state
You may be eligible for compensation, but how much will depend on the quality of your attorney. Your lawyer must be able to collect evidence that minimizes your percentage of fault. Allocating responsibility for an auto accident takes experience, investigative resources, and legal savvy. You need a Los Angeles car accident lawyer from Ellis Law who is well-versed in comparative negligence laws and knows how to play hardball with insurance companies.
To discuss your car accident case free of charge, contact Ellis Injury Law today.
You can collect damages if you were partly at fault
State courts in California allow injured parties to collect damages even if they are found to be 99 percent responsible for the collision. The caveat being that your award is reduced by your percentage of fault. If the insurance company finds you, the plaintiff, to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the defendant 80 percent at fault, and the total damages of personal injury and property damage were $40,000, you would receive $32,000 in total, per the state’s comparative fault rules.
Assigning fault for a car accident is determined by many factors. If you disobeyed traffic signs, were speeding, eating while driving, or checking your text messages, this behavior can hurt your case, and increase your percentage of fault.
Insurers for the defendant will be looking for ways to mitigate their financial exposure. The more evidence they can present that shows you acted negligently and contributed to the accident, the lower your portion of the settlement amount.
Unfair divisions of liability in auto accident claims are not uncommon, which underscores the need for a competent attorney who can protect your rights.
How your accident attorney can help
Securing the highest possible award in a pure comparative negligence state like California state is not easy if you don’t have legal representation. At Ellis Injury Law, we work hard to illustrate your degree of fault was marginal, and we do this by:
- Interviewing witnesses to the accident
- Reviewing the official police report
- Gathering compelling physical evidence such as cell phone records and photos or video surveillance of the accident
- Enlisting accident reconstructionists and other experts to build a case
- Securing medical documentation to support your injuries
Aggressive legal representation from Ellis Law
Ellis Injury Law is an award-winning law firm, leveraging more than 25 years of litigation experience throughout Southern California. Our attorneys have secured more than $350 million in combined settlements and verdicts for clients, and have the skills to maximize the value of your case.
Even if you were partly to blame for a collision, you can still seek money damages under California’s comparative negligence laws. If you need trusted legal guidance after a wreck, contact the Los Angeles car accident attorneys at Ellis Law for a free, no-obligation case review. We handle all cases on a contingency basis, which means we only get paid once we make a recovery on your behalf.