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Understanding Pure Comparative Negligence

In automobile accidents, it’s often difficult to tell which driver is at fault. So, if you were involved in a car accident, you might need the help of a Paramount criminal lawyer. Understanding how comparative negligence systems work is helpful in understanding your legal rights. At Farar & Lewis LLP, we can help you navigate the systems of negligence for vehicle accidents in Paramount.

How Pure Comparative Negligence Works

States, such as California, use a system of pure comparative negligence. In such a system, the plaintiff’s negligence offsets the defendant’s liability. For example, if another driver sues you, the courts will determine if the other driver helped cause the accident. Your liable damages, or the amount you owe because you caused the accident, will be reduced by the other driver’s comparative negligence.

What Does Percentage At Fault Mean?

In a comparative negligence system, the courts determine the percentage each driver contributed to accidents. This means, that even if you hit the other driver, you might be able to enter a partial defense. The other driver’s award will be reduced by the percentage that he or she contributed to the accident.

  • Example: The court determines that you’re liable for an accident. So initially, the court awards the other driver $200,000. But, the court also determines that the other driver was 20 percent negligent in the accident. Thus, your liable amount gets reduced by 20 percent and becomes $160,000. 

What Is Partial Negligence?

You might believe that you’re either negligent or not. So, if someone hits you, they’re negligent. Not quite. Everyone who walks, runs or drives on California roads is accountable for his or her own safety. In this respect, everyone must act reasonably to protect themselves and others while on the roads. If you don’t protect yourself and others, you’ll be partially responsible for accidents in which you become involved.

  • Example: You attempt to cross the street in a crosswalk, but you have the red light. A driver coming from another direction hits you. In this scenario, you didn’t use reasonable care because you didn’t wait for the green light. So, you’re partially responsible for the accident because you had the red light. 

Defendant Must Show Plaintiff’s Negligence

If you’re the defendant, you’ll need to show that the other driver also was partially at fault for the accident. So, you need to show how the plaintiff’s behavior helped to bring about the accident.

  • Example: Let’s use the previous scenario in which a pedestrian crossed the road on a red light. You would need to show that the pedestrian’s behavior was also responsible for the accident.

Caution For Plaintiffs

Avoid distracted driving because your negligence can reduce awards for your injuries. For example, if you text, eat or read maps while driving, your focus isn’t entirely on the road. And, these distractions might cause you to miss the other car speeding toward you. Because you were driving while distracted, the courts will hold you partially responsible when you and the other vehicle collide. Thus, your award will be reduced by a certain percentage.

How We Can Help

Trying to determine who is at fault and the percentage of fault each person contributed to an accident is complicated. With over 70 years of combined experience, we are experts in dealing with California personal injury laws, which means we’re experts in navigating pure comparative negligence cases. Give us a call today so we can help you win your personal injury case.

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