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What Does Comparative Fault Mean and How Can It Affect My Case

What Does Comparative Fault Mean and How Can It Affect My Case

by | Jul 29, 2023 | Personal Injury

What Does Comparative Fault Mean and How Can It Affect My Case?

Fault is the defining feature of personal injury cases. Without fault, no one can be held liable for the victim’s injuries, and the injured party cannot recover damages. Each state determines its own legal guidelines for how this critical element should be determined. California uses a comparative fault system, so what does that mean for your personal injury case?  Contact us with questions on your injury matter – we can help.

The Role of Negligence in Personal Injury

Fault in personal injury cases relies on the concept of negligence, and there are four factors that must be proven to establish negligence in California.

  1. The defendant must have owed a duty of care to the injured party.
  2. That duty was breached by the defendant.
  3. The plaintiff suffered injury or some other form of damage.
  4. The defendant’s negligence caused the injury or harm.

Generally, California personal injury cases consider the reasonable person standard when determining negligence. If the defendant acted in the same way as a reasonable person would act in that situation, then there was likely no negligence. However, failing to do something that a reasonable person would do or doing something a reasonable person wouldn’t do could suggest negligence.

Reasonable behavior involves some level of subjectivity, which is why having legal representation is important. Michael D. Payne is a skilled personal injury attorney who can determine the best way to present the facts and give you the best chance at a favorable outcome. His legal expertise is valued and respected throughout California and earned him an appearance on CNN. Contact us for help on your accident case.

What is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault, sometimes called comparative negligence, is the system used in California to determine fault in personal injury cases, and it allows more than one person to be found responsible for an accident. Under this system, both the plaintiff and defendant will be assigned a percentage of blame, and any compensation awarded will be divided according to that percentage.

Many other states also use a comparative fault system, and there are two kinds – pure and modified. California uses pure comparative fault, and there are numerous types of personal injury cases that use this system, including:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and fall cases
  • Dog bite injury cases
  • Product liability accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

In cases where the defendant claims that the plaintiff contributed to their own injuries, the defendant is required to prove that claim. If the defendant is successful in showing that the plaintiff was negligent and that negligence was a factor in the accident, then any compensation awarded to the victim will be decreased by the amount of fault they hold.  You can reach us for your free legal consultation at 888 964-1530 or contact us by email.

How Might Comparative Fault Affect My Case?

As you can imagine, comparative fault can have a substantial impact on your case if the defendant is able to prove you contributed to your own injuries through negligent behavior. This assignment of fault will cause your compensation to be decreased.

Exactly how comparative fault may apply to your case depends on the type of personal injury claim you are filing and the specific details of your case. Michael D. Payne is a prominent West Covina personal injury attorney with decades of experience. If you are looking for legal insight into your case, Mr. Payne can answer any questions you may have and help you make an informed decision about the appropriate next steps.

Here is an example of comparative fault using a car accident case:

Ricardo and Leah were in a car accident. Ricardo claims that Leah was at fault for the accident, so he files a lawsuit for compensation. During the trial, it was discovered that even though Leah did change lanes and cut Ricardo off, Ricardo was also going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The court found that Leah was 75% at fault and Ricardo was 25% at fault, and an award of $20,000 was awarded to Ricardo. However, because he was partially to blame for the accident, his compensation was decreased by the amount of fault he held, and he only received $15,000.

California law states that even if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you can still receive some monetary damages for your injuries.

Knowing that you have an attorney who prioritizes your physical, emotional, and financial well-being is invaluable during your personal injury lawsuit. Michael D. Payne’s experience, knowledge, and compassion make him an ideal choice to represent you. Choosing Mr. Payne as your ally and advocate is an easy decision because you will never need to worry about upfront costs. You won’t owe any legal fees unless he wins your case. Call 888-964-1530 or visit to schedule a free consultation.  We are here to help.