Determining who is at fault for a car accident can at times be simple and other times complicated. A driver running into the rear of your car while you are stopped is usually a pretty simple example of fault on the part of that driver. Other situations, however, can involve fault on the part of both drivers and depend on a host of factors.
Because fault is so important to the value of any car accident claim, it is in any car accident victim’s best interest to hire a skilled attorney, who can help them establish that the other driver was at fault for the accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in California, call eAccidents today at 844-400-0123 for a free consultation with a qualified and experienced California personal injury attorney.
What is Negligence in a California Car Accident Case?
Determining fault for a car accident is another way of asking who was negligent. But what is negligence? As it relates to California car accidents, negligence occurs when someone fails to fulfill their legal duty to exercise reasonable care and caution on the road and, as a result, someone is injured.
State traffic laws (codified in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) provide guidelines by which negligence may be measured. These rules not only apply to automobiles but also motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, and pedestrians.
In some cases, a driver may be found negligent even if he or she was obeying the law. For example, a driver may have been traveling at the posted speed limit, but still be held negligent because it was unreasonably careless to drive at that speed, given the weather or traffic conditions at the time.
What is Comparative Negligence in California?
If a driver is found negligent, they are at least partly at fault for the accident that resulted from that negligence. But what happens if both drivers were negligent?
If both drivers were negligent, or in other words, if both drivers failed to exercise reasonable care and caution on the road, then we have a situation referred to in California as Comparative Negligence. This means that the role that each driver played in causing the accident must be compared to determine how much fault is attributable to each.
California personal injury law follows the doctrine of Pure Comparative Negligence, meaning that regardless of how much fault for the accident is attributable to you, you are still entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. However, the amount of compensation you are ultimately awarded by a judge or jury will be reduced by your own percentage of fault.
For example, let’s say you were injured in a car accident and your damages were assessed to be a total of $100,000. If you were also assessed 20% fault for the accident, you would only be able to recover $80,000 in total damages ($100,000 minus 20%). Likewise, if you were assessed 80% of the fault, you would only be able to recover 20% of your total damages.
Important Considerations When Determining Fault for a California Car Accident
Determining who is at fault for a car accident isn’t always easy. The drivers involved in the crash usually start blaming one another right away.
Even so-called eyewitnesses aren’t always reliable. Seemingly simple questions such as what color the traffic light was or who had the right of way can be hotly disputed.
To make a legal determination of fault after a car accident, the facts leading up to the accident must be established. Important considerations include:
- The speed of each vehicle involved;
- Whether any traffic laws were violated;
- Whether a driver was distracted by a cellphone, or impaired by drugs or alcohol;
- The police report’s description of the accident; and
- The observations of independent witnesses.
Also, keep in mind that not all car accidents are caused by driver negligence. Sometimes car accidents are caused by a malfunctioning or defective auto part. When that happens, the manufacturer may be held liable for any resulting injuries or losses.
These are all things that only an experienced attorney will know to look for and how to analyze to ensure that you come out on the good end of the stick in terms of assessing fault for the accident.
What to Do After a California Car Accident?
After being injured in a California car accident, it is important to:
- Seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries;
- Contact the police;
- Collect the names and contact information of everyone involved, as well as any eyewitnesses;
- Document the scene of the accident as well as the damage to the vehicles involved with photographs and/or videos; and
- Contact a reputable California personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
**For Steps 3-5, eAccidents has an app for that! Download (http://onelink.to/eaccidents) the eAccidents app today to ensure all of your case information is taken down properly.**
Contact an Experienced California Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident in California, and have a question about who’s at fault, contact eAccidents at 844-400-0123 to arrange a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. Our experienced California personal injury attorneys can evaluate the circumstances of your car accident, and give you guidance on whether you have a car accident claim that you should pursue. Call eAccidents today.