How Does Comparative Negligence Affect a Personal Injury Case?

If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the actions of another individual, business, or entity, there is a good chance you will be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, securing this compensation can be challenging, particularly if the other party says you had a major part in the injury. California operates under a comparative negligence system called “pure comparative negligence.” Here, we want to discuss what that means and how this can affect any eventual personal injury settlement a person receives for their claim.

How Does Pure Comparative Negligence Work?

States across this country handle fault differently. However, most states generally understand that there may be more than one party at fault for a personal injury incident. That is why modified comparative negligence systems were established. Most states allow even a partially at-fault party to recover compensation, though we usually find that a person will be unable to recover compensation if they are 50% or more at fault.

However, California operates under what is called a “pure comparative negligence” system that handles this differently. In California, an injury victim can recover compensation regardless of how much fault they had for the incident (up to 99% at fault).

How Will This Affect a Total Settlement?

If a person is determined to be at fault for their injury in any way, this will actually affect how much compensation they are able to receive. The total amount of fault they are found to have had for the incident will reduce their overall settlement amount. This is best shown by giving an example of a theoretical injury scenario.

Suppose Susie has gone to the grocery store. While entering aisle eight, Susie slips and falls on a broken jar of strawberry jam that the workers knew about but had failed to clean up promptly. For the purposes of this scenario, let us say that Susie sustained $10,000 worth of medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the incident.

If Susie had no fault in the incident, she would likely be entitled to the full 10,000 dollars. However, suppose that it is shown through video surveillance that Susie was texting and staring at her phone when the incident occurred. It could be argued that Susie should have seen the broken jar of strawberry jam, and therefore shared some fault for the incident.

Suppose the grocery store manages to convince a personal injury jury that Susie was 30% at fault for the incident. In this case, the jury would likely award Susie $7,000 instead of the full $10,000 to account for her 30% of the fault.

Work With an Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, you need to seek assistance from a skilled Orange County personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will understand all of the tactics that the other party may use, including trying to shift the blame onto the injury victim. A lawyer can use their resources to obtain all of the evidence needed to properly determine liability and help their clients secure full compensation for their losses.