What is Comparative Negligence?

California is a fault-based state. Therefore, liability must be assigned in personal injury cases in order for victims to receive compensation — but liability may fall on more than one party.

Comparative negligence laws make it possible for more than one person or entity to be found liable in cases of personal injury. This allows for more realistic resolutions to cases in which liability falls in more of a “gray area.”

Determining Liability for an Injury

The way that liability is determined will be different in every personal injury case. In some cases, fault is obvious — such as when a person is driving drunk and causes a car accident. In other cases, fault is not as clear-cut.

In states with comparative negligence laws, people who are involved in a personal injury case are assigned a percentage of fault. This number quantifies their level of negligence and role in causing injuries, and is used when calculating the amount of compensation each party is entitled to.

Compensation Distribution

If multiple parties are found to be liable for an accident, compensation for each party will be reduced according to their level of fault. The laws in California follow the principles of pure comparative negligence, so all people who have been injured in an accident can recover compensation regardless of their level of fault — even a person who is found to be 99% at fault for an accident can recover compensation under these laws.

The amount of compensation each person involved in a case receives will be directly related to their percentage of fault. In a car accident case, for example, there may be three people involved who each sustained injuries. One driver is found to be 60% at fault for the collision and another driver is found to be 40% at fault for the collision. The third person, a passenger, does not share any fault for the collision. If each person incurred $100,000 in damages, the first driver would receive $40,000, the other driver would receive $60,000, and the passenger would receive the full $100,000 in compensation.

Tedford & Associates is available to discuss your personal injury case. We are dedicated to helping injury victims recover the compensation they deserve.

If you are interested in speaking with our legal team, send us a message or call (626) 325-0142 for a free consultation with our lawyers.


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