Our office receives a number of calls daily on whether recovery is possible when they were partially at fault. Many feel that since they were somewhat at fault for the accident they are not entitled to any recovery. However, this is not true. California is a contributory negligent state. Contributory negligence means that even if you were at fault you can still recover for your injuries. If you were injured read the following article for a better understanding of your rights.
What is Contributory Negligence?By definition contributory negligence is your degree or contribution of fault to the accident. California is a contributory negligence state and allows you to recover for your injuries even if your were partially at fault. Certain states or jurisdictions do not apply contributory negligence, and it is important to identify whether your jurisdiction does follow contributory negligence. Here is an example of how contributory negligence works. You were riding a taxi cab and not wearing a seat belt. The taxi cab was subsequently involved in a car accident in which you suffered serious injuries. The insurance company then argues that you were responsible for your own injuries and if you were wearing a seat belt the injuries would have been minimized. If you are not in a contributory negligence state your claim for damages could be denied entirely. However since California follows this model you will be permitted to recover for injuries. In the above example your own degree of fault would be subtracted from that of the car driver. Thus, if you were 20% at fault then you would still be able to recover for 80% of your injuries. While this may reduce part of your claim, it still allows you to recover for damages.
Partial Fault Recovery in Car Accident LawsuitsPartial recovery for damages becomes critical in catastrophic or serious injury cases. If you were injured and have significant medical bills and require long term coverage you will need to be compensated for your injuries. In catastrophic injury cases any type of compensation will be significant. Even if the compensation is pro-rated or reduced to factor your own degree of fault. Recovering in partial fault accidents will be much more difficult. Generally insurance companies will fight or deny claims when partial fault exist. This is because many parties feel they are not entitled to compensation. In other cases they will offer a low ball settlement. Insurance companies will generally increase your level of fault in order to minimize their exposure under the policy. Generally partial fault cases will need to be litigated. Insurance companies will not pay you fair compensation unless a lawsuit is filed. That is why in most cases an attorney will be required.
What Should I Do After My Accident?You must take a few critical steps after your accident. Here is a list of what we feel are the 5 most important steps to take after your car accident.
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries and never try and self diagnose yourself.
- Do not make any statements to an insurance company until you have at least contacted an attorney.
- Get a copy of your traffic report showing what happened. Many times your attorney will be able to get you a copy of this report.
- Write down how the accident took place. You should try and do this as soon as possible. Our memories will often suppress or block our traumatic experiences, that is why you should make sure to record the events as you remember them.
- Speak to an attorney about your case. In many cases you may have a case and not be aware of it. All consultations are free and cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, no recovery no fee.