Comparative Negligence Standard

If you have a personal injury accident in Fresno, there are some California laws of which you should be aware. One important law to know about is the comparative negligence standard. In states without this standard, an accident victim cannot seek compensation if they were partially to blame for the incident. But comparative negligence changes that. In California, an individual can file a lawsuit even if they share some of the blame.

Comparative negligence can impact how much money you receive for your lawsuit. If you have a case where you are partly responsible, contact Grossman Law Offices. Our firm can explain more about comparative negligence and how it can affect your case.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

In Fresno,  an accident can happen at any time or place. People in cars, at work, and on the sidewalk are at risk. 29 pedestrians in the city were killed in 2012 and many others were injured. Personal injury accidents happen on a daily basis.

In many of those accidents, there is a degree of shared blame. For example, a pedestrian could be jay-walking on a Fresno street. A speeding and distracted driver could hit the pedestrian and cause serious injuries. Although the driver should have been more cautious, the pedestrian should have crossed in a crosswalk.

Thanks to comparative fault, the pedestrian can seek compensation. If the case goes to court, the court will assign a percentage of fault to each individual. This will impact the amount of compensation received by the plaintiff. The victim will only receive a percentage of the damages dictated by their percentage of fault.

How Does the Court Determine Fault?

A judge or jury decides how much responsibility each party has for the accident. They determine this in the form of a percentage. After each involved party is assigned their percentage, the total must be equivalent to 100.

This process is done on a case-by-case basis. Because each incident involves unique circumstances, it’s not possible to use a predetermined formula to calculate fault. Instead, the court must look at the details of the accident. 

Which Cases Commonly Involve Comparative Fault?

Any personal injury claim can involve comparative fault. However, the following incidents are more likely to involve comparative fault than other cases:

Car Accidents

In car crashes, there are usually one or more negligent parties. This is most often the case in multi-vehicle accidents. One driver could be texting, another speeding, and a final individual drunk driving. In some cases, there’s also a third-party to blame. A faulty part could cause one driver’s brakes to fail, which could make the part manufacturer liable. 

If this happens to you, a car accident lawyer in Fresno can help. They can inform you of who might be negligent and how much money you might receive.

Premises Liability Cases

Another accident often involving comparative fault is premises liability. This type of incident occurs when a property owner or renter has a hazard or danger on their property. For instance, a restaurant owner could fail to replace a broken chair. If the chair breaks while someone is sitting on it, the victim could file a lawsuit.

But the victim could share some of the blame. They might have used the chair in an inappropriate way, which would make them partially responsible.

Product Liability Cases

Product liability claims arise when someone makes, sells, or designs a product that is defective. According to state laws, the responsible individual is strictly liable for injuries that are associated with the product. Typically, these cases involve manufacturing defects, unsafe designs, and inadequate warnings. 

Strict liability does not negate comparative fault. If a victim’s negligence contributed to the accident, they will only receive a portion of the damages.

Complications with Comparative Negligence

Cases involving comparative negligence can be particularly challenging. This is the case when several parties are responsible for the accident. These cases are considered to have joint and several liability.

If this is the case, the plaintiff can receive money from any one of the defendants. Then, the defendants can sue one another. But there is an exception for non-economic damages. To receive those damages, the plaintiff may need to collect the proper amount from each defendant.

Working with an Experienced Attorney

Many other complications can arise during your personal injury lawsuit. For example, the other party could make a counterclaim against you. It’s important to work with an experienced legal professional to get guidance with the many challenges associated with Fresno civil lawsuits. They may be able to prevent problems and come up with strategies to handle any issues.

Here at Grossman Law Offices, we want to stand up for you. In the past, we’ve handled comparative negligence claims. We know what to expect and know how to get you the money you deserve. If you’re ready to take a step towards justice, contact us today.