What Happens If I’m Partially At Fault In A Car Accident?

Being in a car crash is scary. You’re likely worried, unsure of what to do next, and you may have suffered a serious injury. You can rest a little easier when you know that the accident isn’t your fault. But what if you suspect you were partially at fault or if the police officer’s report indicates that you shared a percentage of fault? Don’t worry – we’re here to help.

partially at fault car accident

California car accident liability laws

Fortunately, because California is a comparative fault state, you can still recover damages in an accident even if you were partially at fault. The courts may also still award damages to more than one party involved in the collision, an award based on the fault percentage each party shares in the accident.

Determining fault after a car accident

Determining fault in a car collision means proving which driver or drivers were negligent. To prove that one or more parties were negligent, your California personal injury attorney will need to prove the following:

  • Someone owed you a duty of care to act in a reasonable manner so as to not cause harm. For example, all drivers are expected to follow all traffic laws because they were implemented for their own safety and the safety of those who share the road.
  • That person breached their duty of care. If someone were looking at their cell phone instead of the road, that would be a breach of their duty.
  • The breach of duty caused an accident – this is called causation.
  • The accident resulted in you suffering injuries or other damages, such as financial losses.

What is the impact of “partial fault” in California?

California’s pure comparative fault laws mean that even if a driver shoulders more than 50% of the fault in an accident, they’re still entitled to receive damages. However, the amount they’re eligible for is reduced by their percentage of fault. Let’s look at an example.

A driver speeding 20 miles over the limit hits you as you’re making a left-hand turn at a blinking yellow light. Because the other car was speeding, they will likely be assigned a majority of fault. However, you could be assigned partial fault because you were expected to yield to oncoming traffic.

In this situation, you could be assigned 25% fault, and the other driver would be assigned 75%.

If both drivers were awarded $100,000 in damages, the comparative fault would affect the damages they receive as follows:

Settlement Award % of Fault Award Reduction Final Settlement Received
$100,000 25% -$25,000 $75,000
$100,000 75% -$75,000 $25,000

What are my legal options if I’m partly at fault for the wreck?

Even if you believe that you caused the accident, there’s a good chance that a professional car wreck reconstructionist and an experienced California car accident attorney may determine that you were less at fault than you think you were. Still, you won’t be barred from seeking damages for your injuries.

It’s highly recommended that you speak with a California personal injury attorney soon after a car accident to understand your rights fully and to protect your ability to file a claim.

Do you need representation from an experienced California car accident attorney?

You have the right to compensation for your damages even if you were partially at fault for an accident. Car accident lawsuits involving more than one at-fault party can be very difficult. To increase your chances of recovering damages, schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney with Ernst Law Group by calling (805) 541-0300.

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