After the sudden impact of a car accident, a million thoughts run through our minds. Beyond determining whether you and your passengers are okay and who hit you, discovering who is at fault for your accident will have a significant impact on your future, especially when it comes to your injuries and compensatory damages.
In California, there are specific guidelines under CACI 405 that juries will follow when determining who is at fault and what percentage of liability they must bear for their negligence. As a pure comparative negligence state, it is also possible that the at-fault driver may try to deflect some of the liability for your injuries onto your own actions. This situation requires accident victims to have a thorough understanding of their rights and a solid case with evidence to show otherwise.
Determining Fault in California Auto Accidents
Being a pure comparative negligence state, California allows injured parties to collect damages for injuries caused by the recklessness of others, even if they share the fault. Unlike states that use a modified version of this law, which caps fault at 50% before denying compensation, California law allows plaintiffs to seek damages regardless of how much liability they hold.
In some cases, determining fault is a straightforward process because only one party contributed to the circumstances that caused the car accident. For example, if a driver made a left turn into an intersection without using a signal, you crashing into them would not be your fault if you were traveling straight.
Sometimes a seemingly obvious case of fault is not reported that way on a police report. This can happen when law enforcement comes to the scene and is unaware of or forgets to note specific details of the crash in their documentation. While these reports should accurately depict the scene and the officer should gather photos, contact information, and any other physical evidence, mistakes can happen. That is why it is critical to collect this information as well so that your car accident attorney can ensure your claim has the evidence required to prove your case.
You may also need to get witness statements, and your lawyer might call in an accident reconstructionist who can testify to how the accident occurred. This testimony can help refute any accusations by the at-fault party that you contributed to your own harm and damages.
Types of Negligence That Can Lead to Fault in a Car Accident
When a driver fails to use reasonable care, they may be at fault for your injuries. Unsafe behavior and manners behind the wheel cause thousands of injuries every year on California highways. Car accident victims have the right to recover the medical costs, pain and suffering, property damages, and other related costs from the negligent party.
There are numerous forms of negligence that leads to car accident lawsuits, the most common of which are:
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Violating traffic laws
- Manufacturer defects in the vehicle
- Poor condition and maintenance of the vehicle
- Dangerous roads and weather
While the above situations are only a small handful of examples, these types of negligence frequently cause devastating accidents and injuries to California motorists annually. This is why working with an experienced personal injury lawyer to gather evidence and represent your claim right after suffering a crash is so critical.
Proving negligence can be challenging at times, especially if the car insurance company tries to blame you for part of the accident. These corporations may sound friendly and helpful at first, but their priority is their bottom line.
When to Consult a California Car Accident Lawyer
Proving negligence in California can be a complicated matter because of its pure comparative fault laws. While this approach to car accidents ensures that victims will still receive some compensation for their injuries, despite their own contributory negligence, at-fault parties often try to manipulate this to their advantage.
In these cases, it is best to consult with a lawyer to ensure you receive appropriate financial compensation from the party at fault and not get bullied by the car insurance company. You deserve fair and just compensation for the harm caused to you financially, emotionally, and medically. At Setareh Law, our attorneys dedicate themselves to representing plaintiffs in California with their car accident claims. To schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, complete an online contact form or call today at (310) 659-1826.