In many cases, it’s relatively easy to figure out who caused a car accident. For example, if you are driving a car through a green light at an intersection and within the legal speed limit, and another driver runs the red light and crashes into side of your vehicle, all the liability will likely rest on the other driver. In some cases, however, assigning liability is a more complicated task based on the circumstances of the accident.
Assigning liability for damages
Let’s use the same example of someone running a red light – but this time, you were texting when the car came through, or trying to make an illegal U-turn. In these circumstances, even though you were the one that got hit, you could be found partially liable for the crash.
The state of California operates under a system of pure comparative negligence. Under this legal framework, each defendant only bears liability according to his or her percentage of fault for the accident. In addition, the plaintiff is able to recover damages, regardless of the percentage of fault he or she carries. The plaintiff’s award for damages is reduced by the percentage of fault he or she is assigned.
Let’s look at another example. Suppose a pedestrian is hit by a driver as he or she jaywalks across a busy intersection. The accident investigation determined that the driver did not break any laws, and in no way acted negligently. In such a situation the pedestrian would not have the legal right to secure compensation for his or her injuries.
If on the other hand, if the driver was speeding just a few miles per hour over the speed limit or was driving distracted in some way, the pedestrian would have a legitimate case to recover damages. The level of compensation awarded to the pedestrian would be apportioned based on the percentage of fault the pedestrian was assigned by the court.
The comparative negligence rule is incredibly important when it comes to multi-car crashes, too. After all, when multiple vehicles cascade into one another (a chain reaction), technically, multiple drivers should be liable. If you were in one of the cars in the middle, though, your chances of being seriously injured may be greater than if you were the last car in the chain. Therefore, you should be able to collect damages, even if you hit the car in front of you.
Determining percentage of liability to each party
When multiple parties are responsible for a car crash that leaves one or both parties physically injured, the court or the parties themselves will determine the level of liability each party bears.
So, the driver of the vehicle who ran the red light and hit a distracted driver may be assigned 75% liability for the crash. The other 25% would rest with the distracted driver. These percentages may vary significantly based on the circumstances of the case and the judgment of those assigning the liability.
The Los Angeles car crash attorneys at Taylor & Ring understand the devastating consequences of the injuries sustained in vehicle accidents. If you are the victim of the negligent actions of another driver in a car accident, we can fight on your behalf for the financial compensation you deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, call us today at 310.776.6390 or fill out our contact form.