What if I’m Partially at Fault for My Slip and Fall Accident?
Landowners are only liable for slip and fall injuries when they were negligent so if you were partly to blame for your accident, it can reduce the amount of compensation you are eligible to recover in proportion to your degree of fault. However, California law still allows you to recover compensation for the injury.
If you pursue an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit based on your slip and fall accident, do not be surprised if the other side tries to use your alleged fault to avoid their responsibilities. Having an experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer on your side will help you protect your rights against claims of comparative negligence.
What is comparative negligence?
Comparative negligence is a rule that holds each party responsible for the portion of the damages that their carelessness caused. Under this rule, percentages are applied to each party’s negligence. The plaintiff’s compensation is then reduced in proportion with his or her assigned percentage of fault.
California is a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that a plaintiff has the right to seek compensation no matter how much of the fault for the accident was their own. In other words, even if you bear 99% of the blame for your fall, you are legally allowed to sue the landowner for 1% of your damages (though it would not likely be practical to do so).
Alternatives to pure comparative negligence
Some comparative fault states have adopted what is known as “modified comparative fault” rules. In these states, a plaintiff is barred from pursuing compensation if his or her negligence exceeds a statute-determined bar. That means that the plaintiff cannot sue or bring an insurance claim if their fault was greater than the legal limit, set at either 50% or 51% depending on the state.
Though the cutoff under modified comparative fault may seem harsh, it is not nearly as harsh as the older “contributory negligence” rule still followed in a handful of states, which completely prohibits an injured party from pursuing compensation if they were the least bit to blame for the accident.
It is important to understand that under pure comparative fault rules, you can still receive compensation in California even if you were partly to blame. Insurance adjusters and others working on behalf of a defendant may downplay the defendant’s fault to minimize how much they pay on a claim or mislead you as to your rights but our skilled slip & fall attorneys fight for the best results.
How negligence is calculated
If your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, each party will present evidence and arguments of negligence and the jury (or the judge if it is a bench trial) will determine the degrees of fault. The jury will also determine the amount of loss that the injury caused. The judge will then determine the amount of compensation that the defendant owes by reducing the amount of loss by your percentage of the blame.
As an example, you may have slipped on a fountain drink that a gas station employee failed to clean up despite knowing it was there. However, at the time, you were looking at your phone and not at your surroundings. The slip and fall caused medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering amounting to $50,000. The jury determined that you bore 20% of the blame so the judge awards you $40,000.
Most cases do not proceed to trial. Instead, they are settled beforehand with an insurance company. Without a formal determination of fault, this is something that may be negotiated between the parties. Since comparative negligence can have a big impact on your compensation, choose a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience pursuing slip and fall cases in Southern California.
Get help with your CA slip and fall case
If you have questions about how your potential fault may affect your slip and fall claim, do not wait to speak with an attorney about your case. A successful claim may result in compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
The team at Ellis Injury Law is dedicated to protecting the rights of injured residents of Southern California. Call today to discuss your legal options. Consultations are always free and confidential.