What If You Are Partially at Fault at Your Accident?

Everyone makes mistakes, especially on the road. However, many injured motorists incorrectly believe that if their own negligence contributed to their injuries in any way, they are wholly unable to recover legal compensation. This belief is based on an old rule of law called contributory negligence that has been abolished in all but a handful of states. While shared fault can still affect your personal injury award, it is usually not a total bar to recovery.

California abandoned the idea of contributory negligence in 1975 when the California Supreme Court decided Li v. Yellow Cab Co. of California. Since that time, California has adopted a pure comparative negligence rule in that an injured plaintiff can recover damages so long as the plaintiff’s own fault was not 100 percent. In a scenario where the plaintiff suffers $100,000 in damages but a jury finds that the plaintiff was 70 percent at fault for the injury and the defendant was 30 percent culpable, the plaintiff will recover $30,000. Your damage claim is apportioned by the percentage of comparative negligence attributed to your degree of fault.

In considering whether a plaintiff is at fault, juries look at the same facts and factors as they do for defendants:

  1. Traffic violations
  2. Speeding
  3. Distracted driving
  4. Intoxication
  5. Poor vehicle maintenance

Defense attorneys are quick to point out any possible basis for a plaintiff’s contribution to the accident to reduce liability for their clients and their insurance carriers.


If you or your family members have been injured in a car accident, please call the Law Offices of Alex Tovarian. We will be happy to provide you with a free confidential consultation regarding your potential case.

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