What is "comparative fault" in California? "Comparative fault" means that if you were some percentage of fault in an event that caused you harmed or injuries, your portion of fault will be "compared" to the fault of the other person or persons that contributed to your harm.
For example, let's say you are walking across the street, not in a crosswalk, with your head down staring at your smartphone, and you have air buds in both ears. Let's also say it is nighttime, and there is an inattentive driver who is speeding and does not have his or her headlights on, and the car impacts you causing you bodily injuries. A lawyer tells you that your case is worth $100,000.00 for your injuries which includes your medical bills. Well, ultimately a judge or jury would be in the position of comparing your portion of fault with the portion of fault against the driver. It could be that you are found to be 50% at fault for your injuries, and the driver is found to be 50% at fault. When you receive your jury verdict of $100,000.00, the judge will cut your verdict down by 50%, the amount of your "comparative fault." In this example, it would leave you with $50,000.00.
Why Is Comparative Fault Important In A Personal Injury Case?
An experienced personal injury lawyer can argue facts to help your position in comparative fault analysis. For example, instead of you being 50% at fault for your own injuries, such a lawyer can find evidence to help increase the liability exposure of the other party. Perhaps this could change your liability from 50% to 25%, showing the other party is up to 75% at fault. Facts surrounding your injury case would be analyzed in order to support such a change. Evidence like witness statements, property damage, statements made to the traffic officer can all be reviewed and argued to your benefit, should those facts or opportunities exist in your California personal injury case.
Not Every State Does "Comparative Fault The Same
We are fortunate to live in California where "comparative fault" exists because it is the fairest way to divide up an injury case. Some states, do not have "comparative fault," but rather a concept called "contributory negligence/fault." In those states, if you are more than 50% at fault for your own injury, then it wipes out any further recovery against the other party. In my mind, that is not the best way to look at an injury-producing event because it does not fairly apportion fault based on the facts of what occurred.
San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Here To Help You
If you have been injured and you feel you are being looked upon as being partly at fault, and you have questions, I invite you to reach out to me at 619.813.7955. I take calls like yours every single day, and I would be happy to see if I can help you. With that said, stay strong! Attorney Mark Blane