When Do I Need to Think About Comparative Fault in My Vista Personal Injury Case?

After any kind of serious accident or situation in Vista in which another party’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing causes a personal injury, it is important to think about filing a claim for compensation. Depending upon the cause of the injury, and the type of accident or circumstances in which the injury occurred, it may be possible to file an insurance claim to seek compensation before considering a personal injury lawsuit. At other times, it may be necessary to begin thinking immediately about a civil lawsuit under California law. If you have done any initial research into personal injury cases in Southern California, you might have come across the term “comparative fault” or “comparative negligence.”

When does the issue of comparative fault apply to a personal injury case? Our Vista personal injury lawyers can clarify.

Comparative Fault or Comparative Negligence Involves the Plaintiff’s Liability

Questions of comparative fault or comparative negligence involve the plaintiff’s own liability in a civil lawsuit. Indeed, the terms comparative fault or comparative negligence refer to the way that the plaintiff’s own fault or negligence compares with the defendant’s fault or negligence, and how the plaintiff’s portion of that fault or negligence will impact their ability to recover damages.

Issue of Comparative Fault or Negligence Will Only Come Up if the Defendant Raises it

Comparative fault or negligence is a defense strategy, and it only comes up if the defendant raises it. To be clear, even if you believe you are partially at fault in a personal injury case, the issue of your fault once you file a civil lawsuit against a defendant will only arise if the defendant argues that they should not be responsible for paying damages (or should only be responsible for a smaller portion of damages) due to your fault as a plaintiff.

California Uses a “Pure” Comparative Fault or Negligence Model

If there is a possibility that this issue of comparative negligence will come up in your case, how will it impact your claim and your payout? You should know that different states have their own models of comparative fault or comparative negligence. A small number of states use a “pure contributory negligence” rule, which says a plaintiff is totally barred from recovery if that plaintiff is even 1% at fault. There are a lot of states that use a “modified comparative fault” rule that only bars a plaintiff’s recovery once the plaintiff’s fault reaches 50% or 51%. California uses a rule that is more generous to plaintiffs.

Under California’s “pure” comparative fault rule, plaintiffs can recover damages regardless of their percentage of fault, as long as the defendant is still partially at fault (even if the defendant’s fault is ultimately only 1%). However, the damages the plaintiff recovers will be diminished by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. For example, if a court awards a plaintiff $100,000 but the court also finds that the plaintiff was 10% at fault, the plaintiff would recover $90,000 (or, $100,000 minus 10%).

Contact a Vista Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Whether you have questions or concerns about comparative negligence and your own possible liability in a personal injury claim you plan to file, or if you need more general assistance with a personal injury case, one of our lawyers can help. Do not hesitate to get in touch with an experienced Vista personal injury attorney to learn more about the services we provide and the wide variety of personal injury claims we handle. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for additional information.


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