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.
Types of Evidence That Can Help Determine Fault
In order to hold the person responsible for their negligence and your damages, your lawyer will need to establish liability with concrete evidence and thorough documentation. While there are various types of evidence they may use within your case, consider a few common examples below:
Statements from individuals who witnessed the accident can provide crucial firsthand accounts of the incident. Eyewitness testimonies can establish the sequence of events, the actions of the parties involved, and any contributing factors.
Photographs and Videos
Visual evidence – such as photographs and videos – taken at the accident scene can document the area’s condition, the damage to vehicles or property, any visible injuries, and other relevant details. This evidence can also help recreate the scene and support the injured party’s version of events.
Official accident reports created by law enforcement agencies or other authorized entities can contain vital information, including details about the parties involved, statements from witnesses, preliminary assessments of fault, and any citations or violations issued by the officer.
Having medical records documenting your injuries and other information can establish a connection between the accident and the damages, as well as provide valuable insights into the severity of the injuries, the required treatment, and the long-term impact on the individual’s health and well-being.
Damaged vehicles, defective products, or hazardous conditions can help establish liability in a car accident claim. Physical evidence can demonstrate how the incident occurred and highlight any factors that contributed to the injuries.
It’s important to note that the availability and strength of evidence may vary from case to case. Consulting with a car accident attorney who will act on your behalf and analyze the relevant evidence is crucial in building a solid case and determining fault in a personal injury claim.
What If Fault Cannot Be Determined?
When fault cannot be determined in a car accident case, it can complicate the legal proceedings and make it challenging to assign responsibility for the injuries, as well as recover compensation for your losses. In such situations, the case’s outcome may vary depending on the case’s specific circumstances.
When these situations occur, having a lawyer by your side will provide you with guidance and information about your best possible next steps. In some cases, having a lawyer will provide you with professionals who can navigate and avoid these circumstances altogether. Your lawyer will assess the evidence, conduct investigations, and work towards establishing a compelling argument to support your claim.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer at Setareh Law
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.