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Will Fault Be a Factor in Your California Car Accident Claim?

Will Fault Be a Factor in Your California Car Accident Claim?

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury

Auto Accident - Mike Payne Law

Car accidents are the leading cause of personal injury in the U.S., and over 200,000 thousand people are injured from motor vehicle crashes in California alone. When you’ve suffered a serious injury as a result of a car accident, you will likely be faced with a challenging road to recovery. Medical expenses, lost wages, and property repair costs add up quickly, which means many car crash victims are eager to reach a settlement with the insurance company.  Contact us here if we can help or call us at 888 964-1530.

In some cases, one driver is determined to be at fault for the accident, and the process can move forward relatively simply. However, it is possible that more than one driver could have contributed to the accident. Will fault be a factor in your car accident claim?

At-Fault Drivers

When a driver is found to be at fault for a car accident, they are liable to the other involved parties for any injuries that were caused as a result of the crash. This is a relatively simplistic explanation of what is actually a complex legal consideration. When determining fault, the concept of negligence will play a large part in the final decision. In order to build a solid personal injury case, you and your lawyer will need to be able to show that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. Michael D. Payne is an experienced California personal injury lawyer that has been featured on CNN and is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome in their car accident cases.

Examples of West Covina Car Accidents in Los Angeles County

Examples of negligent driving include speeding, running a red light, texting while operating the vehicle, or driving under the influence. California’s laws on driver negligence state that in order to receive compensation based on a claim of negligence, it must be proven that the at-fault driver:

1. Owed a duty of care to the injured individual.
2. Breached that duty by driving negligently; and
3. Caused the injuries through their negligence.

All California drivers owe a duty to others on the road to exercise reasonable care when driving. If they do not fulfill that duty and use reasonable care, this could be considered negligent. There are situations, however, in which driver negligence may not have contributed to the crash. Examples of this scenario include defective car parts or hazardous road conditions. If you have questions about the specifics of your case and how California personal injury law applies to your accident claim, the Law Offices of Michael D. Payne may be able to help. Contact us here for a free consultation

Types of Damages

As you head toward a potential settlement or litigation over your injuries, you are probably wondering what type of compensation you may be eligible for. These details vary considerably from case to case, but, in general, California allows car accident victims to claim two types – compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages relate to losses that a car accident victim has suffered and needs compensation for. Things like medical expenses, vehicle replacement, property repairs, lost wages, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering, and future medical care are all examples of compensatory damages. These damages include two subcategories known as economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are usually easier to quantify because they have a set value, like emergency department bills or repairs to your vehicle. Non-economic damages are often more challenging to place a value on, as they consist of things that generally have a specific dollar amount set to them. Examples would be loss of consortium for a spouse, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of the use of an organ, and unjust hardship.

Punitive damages, the second type of damages that may be available to California car accident victims, are sometimes awarded following crashes with serious injuries if the at-fault driver acted recklessly, with the intent to harm someone, or if they committed a hit-and-run. At the Law Offices of Michael D. Payne, we have 30 years of personal injury experience in California, and we can advise you on which types of damages you may be entitled to. We know these times can be difficult both physical, emotionally, and financially, so you won’t owe us any legal fees unless we win your case.

Comparative Fault

What happens if both you and another driver are found at fault for the car accident that caused your serious injury? California laws apply comparative fault to auto accidents. This means that any compensation you’re awarded will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you hold for the car accident. As an example:

Sonya was awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages following a car accident, and she was found to be 20% at fault. Her compensation would be reduced by 20%, leaving $80,000 in damages that she would receive.

A few states still use contributory negligence, instead of comparative fault, in personal injury and car accident cases. In contributory negligence, any responsibility on the part of the plaintiff or injured party would result in no damages being awarded. California, along with many other states, adopted the comparative fault system because it is less harsh than the alternative.
Legal Representation

Hiring a California personal injury lawyer to help you receive compensation for the serious injuries you sustained after a car accident often leads to more favorable results. People who hire an attorney to represent them get more money from insurance companies than those who go through the process alone. The insurance company may have representatives that speak to you nicely and seem like they care about what you’re going through, but the reality is that they have the insurance provider’s best interests in mind.

You deserve someone who will advocate for you and represent you in the best way possible throughout this process. Michael D. Payne is a former insurance company lawyer, which means he knows how they think and what their tactics are. You can put this knowledge and experience to work for you; call 888-964-1530 to schedule a free consultation or contact us here to learn more.