When you are involved in a car crash in Irvine, you may be able to recover compensatory damages with help from an Orange County car accident attorney. However, a number of things need to be considered before you can win your claim or lawsuit. One of these vital considerations is fault.
Fault is essentially the comparative negligence involved in a car accident. Legally speaking, most car crashes occur due to the negligence of one or more entities. For instance, if one driver was over-speeding and a second driver ran a red light resulting in a collision between the two, both will be held liable. On the other hand, if one driver is speeding and rear-ends a second driver who was abiding by the road rules, the speeding driver is negligent.
Negligence is considered when determining fault in a car accident. California is a fault state, which means that if you can show that another driver’s fault caused a crash, you can recover compensatory damages from that driver. This makes the determination of fault even more important. Without proving fault or showing that the other driver was negligent, you may receive no damages at all.
Fault in a Car Accident
In any car accident, fault is determined based on the available evidence and documentation. This may include police reports, on-site evidence, photos and videos of vehicular damage, witness statements, statements from the plaintiff and the defendant, and so on. The factors that can affect fault include speed of the drivers, the right of way, whether the drivers were wearing seatbelts, and road and weather conditions among others.
The relevant evidence may clearly show that one driver was at fault. Or it is possible that the evidence indicates that more than one party was at fault.
In such a case, the fault is distributed among all the negligent parties. To use an example, if a driver was driving under the influence and hit your vehicle while you were talking on the phone, both may be held at fault. This is because both drivers were distracted at the time the accident occurred. A court may then determine that the drunk driver was 80% at fault and you were 20% at fault.
The good news is that even when you are partly at fault, California laws allow you to recover damages. This is possible thanks to California’s pure comparative fault law.
What is California’s Pure Comparative Fault Law?
Pure comparative fault law says that you can recover compensation no matter how huge or small your own percentage of fault is. This percentage plays a key role in determining your actual damages payout. If the court finds that you were entitled to $10,000 in damages but also found that you were 20% at fault, you will receive $8,000 in damages. In other words, 20% of your damages, in proportion to your fault, are reduced.
In many states, you are barred from recovering damages if you are even 1% at fault. This was the original contributory negligence law. In other states, you can recover compensation when at fault but not when your fault is above 49% or 50%. This is the modified comparative fault law.
California follows a more pure form of comparative fault. As per California laws, you are entitled to compensatory damages no matter your percentage of fault. In other words, you can recover compensation even when you are found 99% at fault. In such an unlikely scenario, you will still receive 1% of the compensatory damages.
So if you suffer injuries and property damage in a car crash which was partly your fault, don’t lose hope. You can still recover damages to cover a part of your losses because of the comparative fault law that applies to car crash claims in Orange County.
However, the insurer or at-fault driver will do their best to show that your percentage of negligence was greater than it is. This is simply an attempt to underpay you for your losses. This is where you will need the help of an attorney.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney in Irvine, Orange County
If you have suffered a car accident in Irvine, we can help you. Here at Crockett Law Group, we work with car crash victims to help them recover the compensation they deserve. Even if you were partly at fault in causing an accident, it might be possible for you to receive a portion of the damages. Call us today to discuss your case over the phone or schedule a free one-on-one session with our attorneys.