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Comparative Negligence

How Could California Comparative Negligence Affect My Accident Claim?

Our San Jose Car Accident Lawyers Explain

In a car accident, it is common for more than one driver to share responsibility for the incident. There are hundreds of variables that can lead up to an accident and unless one car is completely parked, there are many situations in which multiple drivers are at fault.

At the moment of the accident, identifying responsibility may be impossible or there may other more immediate factors, such as a need for medical assistance.

In any case, the complexities of most accidents make facing the claims process alone both overwhelming and challenging. Some car accident victims are reluctant to pursue compensation for their injuries because they believe they were partially to blame for the accident. Other drivers may simply be unaware that they are eligible to recover from their losses.

However, California car accident cases follow the doctrine of “comparative negligence,” which means that you may still be able to recover compensation even if you played a role in causing the accident.

Needham Kepner & Fish LLP is a San Jose car accident law firm that has years of experience with these types of claims. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to help you recover compensation for your injuries.

What Is California Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a defense to a car accident claim or lawsuit. In a comparative negligence defense, the accused argues that the victim had some sorts of responsibility for their own injuries.

When a comparative negligence defense is pursued by one of the people involved in the accident, it is up to the judge or jury to determine the percentage of liability each party has for the injuries. If there is more than one party involved, then the court or jury must decide what percentage of the responsibility belongs to each party.

If you were partially at fault, the amount of compensation you can receive is reduced in proportion to your share of the blame for the accident. For example, you may have been driving a couple of miles over the speed limit when a driver who ran a red light hit you. As a result, you sue the other driver for $100,000 for your injuries.

At trial, the judge or jury hears the evidence and assigns a percentage of responsibility to you and to the defendant. If the evidence shows that you were 20 percent responsible for the accident and the driver who hit you was 80 percent responsible, you could recover $80,000 in compensation — that is, the $100,000 would be reduced by your 20 percent of the blame.

What Types of Negligent Acts May Contribute to an Accident?

Many factors can reduce your damages in a negligence case in California. With the number of factors available, some are easier to prove than others. This is where an experienced legal team can come into play.

Identifying the proper responsibility is key in receiving accurate compensation to cover your damages. The following is a list of common variables that may contribute to an accident and which may be used in a comparative negligence case:

  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to use a safety belt
  • Speeding
  • Running a yellow or red light
  • Failure to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle
  • Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving
  • Tailgating
  • Unsafe lane changing
  • Failure to adapt your driving to rain, fog, or other hazardous conditions
  • Disregarding a pedestrian traffic light

Consult an Experienced San Jose Car Accident Law Firm for Help Today

Every car accident presents its own set of challenges. An incident with hundreds of variables is very rarely black and white, and will often require further investigation and expert opinions or trusted witnesses. Especially with the addition of insurance companies who want to protect their assets as well as their clients, you may need experienced representation on your side.

At Needham Kepner & Fish LLP, our highly qualified lawyers guide you through every stage of your vehicle accident claim.

We will work with you to ensure that every angle of the incident is looked at and considered for liability and responsibility. Even if you know that you had something to do with the accident, you may still be able to recover some of your damages.

We offer free consultations to help anyone involved in an accident to better understand their situation.

To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (408) 716-1668 or fill out an online form. We handle injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you pay us nothing unless you recover compensation.

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