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Comparative Negligence

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In the city of San Luis Obispo, a person who is injured in some type of accident that is caused by the negligence of another may have the grounds for a successful personal injury lawsuit. When negligence is proven, the person who is found to be responsible may have to pay the cost of medical bills, lost wages and more.

Many people have the misconception that they will go to court, the negligent party will be found guilty, and then they will receive a large settlement. The process of a personal or bodily injury lawsuit is not this cut and dry. A person must not only prove all of the elements of negligence in order to receive compensation, but they must also show that they made no actions or inactions that could have played a part in the accident.

This is called the comparative negligence rule. In essence, if a judge finds that the plaintiff’s actions somehow contributed to the injury, the amount of compensation will be reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff has been found to be responsible. For example, you are walking through a store and see a “wet floor” sign. You walk through the puddle anyway instead of around it. You slip and fall, injuring yourself. A judge may find that your actions at least contributed to your accident. While the owner or manager should have cleaned the spill, you should have chosen to walk around it.

This is just a simple example of comparative negligence. In many personal injury cases, determining percentage of fault is more complex and can take evidence and testimony of expert witnesses to prove.

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