In California, personal injury cases incorporate a legal concept known as comparative negligence. This allows more than one person to share the blame in a car accident, slip and fall, or other types of personal injury cases.
Understanding comparative negligence is important since you may find that even as the injury victim, your compensation is reduced if you hold partial blame for the incident.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work In California Personal Injury Cases?
When an accident occurs and results in injuries, the victim can be partly at fault. You can still pursue compensation for your damages, but the amount you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
The other party may try to insist that you were doing something negligent as well at the time. This can happen in car accidents, especially at intersections with stop signs. It also happens for slip and fall accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.
Evidence is always crucial because it can help you prove you were not at fault for your injuries. If you don’t reach a settlement with the insurance company, then the case will move forward and you may wind up with a jury deciding on your percentage of fault. In some cases, this will work out in your favor — but in other instances, you may be assigned more blame.
Let’s say that you were driving through an intersection when another car crashed into you. After reconstructing the accident, the experts determined that you were going over the speed limit. They may assign you 20% of the blame for the accident, which would mean your award would be reduced by 20%. If the award you’d receive was $100,000 without any fault, when you are shown to be 20% at fault, you would only get $80,000.
It’s better than nothing, but if you truly didn’t act negligently, why should your award be reduced?
Do I Need To Have An Attorney For A Personal Injury Case With Comparative Negligence?
In situations where your damages are minor, such as a couple of bruises and a small dent on your fender, you may be able to handle your claim on your own. However, if your injuries have resulted in a hospital stay, emergency surgery, and time away from work, you shouldn’t try to do it alone.
Insurance adjusters will try to find a reason to assign more blame to you to reduce what they should pay out. Lawyers can help ensure that proper evidence is presented to keep you from absorbing more blame than you deserve.
Because of comparative negligence rules, legal representation is important in California. While it may seem fine that you can still collect compensation even if you’re partially at fault, the evidence may show that you didn’t have any fault at all. The tactics insurance companies use to make you think otherwise and admit blame are infuriating.
How A Lawyer Can Help In Cases With Comparative Negligence
When you hire an attorney, they’ll have many resources at their disposal to help prove the other party was liable. In a car accident case, they will likely hire an accident reconstruction specialist who can show what happened. Along with physical evidence and witness testimony, they will be able to show the other driver was the one at fault.
If you slipped and fell at the supermarket, your attorney can hire relevant experts to show how the owner’s negligence resulted in your injury. No matter the kind of personal injury case, it all boils down to the evidence.
One of the most important things to do when you’re injured is to seek legal representation right away. You have a limited time according to the state’s statute of limitations for personal injuries, which is two years from the date of your injury. Since evidence is crucial in preventing you from shouldering more blame than you deserve, it is imperative to start gathering it immediately following your personal injury.
You may be too injured to do this yourself, but an attorney can take that on while you heal from your injuries. They can also speak to the insurance company on your behalf, which is much better than having to talk to them yourself. Insurance adjusters know how to ask leading questions that may be construed as an admission of fault.
To have fair representation in a personal injury case when comparative negligence is a factor, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer in Northridge to discuss the particulars of your case.