While it might be easy to determine fault in some California slip-and-fall accidents, that’s not always the case. Typically, slip-and-fall accidents are caused by unsafe or risky conditions not corrected by a negligent property owner or manager. However, in some circumstances, these conditions may have been obvious and avoidable.
In this case, the victim may be partially at fault for the accident. However, they may still be entitled to receive compensation, thanks to California’s comparative negligence law in personal injury claims. So, what is comparative negligence, and how can it impact your slip-and-fall case? Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Under California’s comparative negligence law, an injured victim can still recover compensation in a slip-and-fall case, even if they are partly to blame for the accident. The court will examine the degree to which each party involved in the slip-and-fall accident contributed to the damages or injuries. This will then be used to calculate the compensation a victim can receive. Generally, California is a pure comparative fault state, meaning an individual can still be entitled to compensation even if they were as much as 99% at fault for an accident.
Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence
Contributory negligence is another type of negligence doctrine that may apply to a slip-and-fall personal injury case. Unlike contributory negligence, comparative negligence allows you to receive compensation even if you’re partially to blame. In contributory negligence, the plaintiff cannot recover compensation from the defendant if they are considered partly responsible for the accident.
This means that if the plaintiff was even 1% at fault for their own injury, they are barred from recovering any damages. Most states, including California, replaced this policy with comparative negligence.
When Comparative Negligence Impacts a California Slip-and-Fall Case
Comparative negligence arises when both the plaintiff and the defendant are found to be at least somewhat responsible for the accident. Some of the circumstances that can trigger comparative negligence include:
- When you slip and fall in a store because you are texting on your phone and not paying attention to your surroundings
- You try to climb stairs that are clearly broken
- You trip over a large, clearly visible object
- You try traversing an obviously icy area
- Enter a place that’s clearly under construction
In these circumstances, the court may find that you were partly at fault for the accident. If you win the case, the compensation you receive for your injuries will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
How Does Comparative Negligence Impact My Slip-and-Fall Case?
When pursuing compensation for the injuries and damages sustained following a slip-and-fall accident, liability is determined based on fault. Typically, you’ll be entitled to receive total compensation that covers damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, if you’re partially liable, the award is reduced.
Therefore, comparative negligence can impact your slip-and-fall claim by affecting the compensation you can receive. When comparative negligence is at play, the jury will determine the total damages and examine each party’s fault.
They’ll then determine the percentage of fault you have for the accident. If the court finds that you share some of the responsibility for the accident, it will reduce your compensation by the percentage of responsibility. For example, if a jury determines that your slip-and-fall accident claim is worth $100,000 but you were 20% at fault for the accident, your compensation would be reduced to $80,000.
How to Build Your Case if Comparative Negligence Might Be an Issue
Typically, the defendant raises the issue of comparative negligence and will be required to prove that the plaintiff’s negligent actions partially caused the accident. In most cases, the defendant and their insurance companies may use comparative negligence to reduce the value of your compensation or blame you for the accident. Therefore, you can help your personal injury case in the following ways:
- Gathering as much evidence as possible: This includes taking photographs and videos of the accident scene and collecting physical evidence, such as pieces of a broken handrail. Enough evidence ensures a bigger percentage of fault is blamed on the defendant.
- Avoid giving statements of any kind: Insurance companies may try to intimidate you into giving statements. You should not give in, as these statements may be used against you in the future.
- Hire an experienced lawyer: Comparative negligence complicates your case, and it’s imperative to have a skilled slip-and-fall lawyer help you build your case and guide you to receiving fair compensation.
With the help of witness statements, expert analysis, and an experienced attorney, you may prove that the defendant’s negligence created the hazardous situation that led to your injuries.
Consult a Skilled California Slip-and-Fall Attorney at Setareh Law
When a slip-and-fall victim is partially liable for the accident, their financial compensation will be reduced based on the percentage of their fault. Therefore, comparative negligence creates uncertainty in your case, and you may receive compensation that does not adequately cover your damages. That’s why if you’ve been involved in a slip-and-fall accident in California, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights.
At Setareh Law, our skilled slip-and-fall attorneys can help fight comparative negligence claims. We can help you gather evidence, assess the weaknesses in your claim, and build a solid case to maximize your compensation. Contact us today by calling (310) 659-1826 or scheduling a no-obligation consultation to have the best California slip-and-fall attorneys fighting for your rights.