How Can Comparative Fault Affect the Outcome of My Personal Injury Lawsuit in Carlsbad?

If you were injured in an accident in Carlsbad or in another incident that resulted in a serious personal injury, you may be thinking about your options for seeking financial compensation. If you were harmed in a motor vehicle collision, you could be eligible to seek financial compensation by filing an auto insurance claim before you need to move onto thinking about a lawsuit. Or, if you were injured at work, you could be eligible to obtain medical benefits and money to cover lost wages by filing a workers’ compensation claim. For other types of accidents, the first step may be to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. 

Whether you have already gone through another claims or benefits process, or you are getting started quickly on your personal injury lawsuit, it is important to understand how comparative fault may affect the outcome of your lawsuit.

What is Comparative Fault? 

Comparative fault, which is known as contributory fault or contributory negligence in some states, is an affirmative defense for a person who is facing liability for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. With comparative fault or contributory negligence, the defendant can raise the issue of comparative fault, alleging that the plaintiff’s own negligence or fault played a role in causing the accident or the seriousness of the injuries in order to reduce or bar damages for the plaintiff.

While some states will bar a plaintiff from recovery if that plaintiff is responsible for some of the fault, California follows what is known in the law as a pure comparative fault rule. What this means is that a plaintiff will not be barred from recovery if the plaintiff is 5% at fault or even 95% at fault. Instead, the plaintiff will have her damages award reduced based on her total percentage of fault.

Comparative Fault Does Not Automatically Reduce Your Damages

Just because a defendant raises the defense of comparative fault does not mean that you will automatically see your damages award reduced by any percentage. You will have the ability to produce evidence that refutes the defendant’s allegations and shows that the defendant bears full responsibility for the accident and for your injuries. Your attorney can help with this process.

How Does Comparative Fault Ultimately Work?

Here is an example of how comparative fault works: If you are injured in a car accident caused by a texting driver, that driver might raise the issue of comparative fault by showing that you were not wearing your seatbelt when the accident happened. Even if the at-fault driver can prove that you were not buckled in, California’s pure comparative fault rule will mean that your damages award will only be reduced by your portion of the fault. If the court decides that the distracted, texting driver is 95% at fault but you are 5% at fault (because your injuries are more severe than they would have been if you had worn your seatbelt), your damages award will be reduced by 5%.

Contact a Carlsbad Personal Injury Lawyer for Help

If you have questions about comparative fault in your personal injury case, an experienced Carlsbad personal injury attorney can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.


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