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Can small mistakes prevent injury victims from getting compensation?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Those injured due to the actions or omissions of other people usually have the right to pursue compensation. For example, someone injured in a car crash could potentially file an insurance claim seeking to access the liability coverage of the driver at fault for the collision.

They could also take the matter to civil court if the driver at fault for the crash does not have adequate insurance coverage or if the costs produced by injuries are particularly high. Some cases are more complex than others, leaving people unsure of their options.

An individual pursuing compensation might recognize that they made a minor mistake that contributed to the crash. Can a small mistake prevent someone from holding another party accountable for their injuries?

California has nuanced negligence rules

There was once a time when plaintiffs pursuing compensation in California effectively had to prove that they bore no responsibility for the incident that left them injured. Defendants could respond to a personal injury lawsuit by asserting that the person who filed the claim had a degree of responsibility for the incident. That changed after a landmark court ruling in the 1970s. The courts effectively adopted a pure comparative negligence standard. Regardless of how much fault an individual plaintiff has for an incident, they still potentially have the right to take legal action in pursuit of financial compensation.

If the courts agree with the defendant that the plaintiff was partially responsible, they assign a percentage of fault to each of the parties involved. That percentage then affects the final compensation received.  Asking for compensation was 99% they could file a lawsuit and receive compensation based on the 1% of fault allocated to the other party. Even then, the burden of proof falls on the defendant to establish that the plaintiff has a degree of personal blame for the situation. People who forgot to use their blinkers or who exceeded the speed limit only to end up injured in a crash caused by someone driving while drunk or texting while driving could take legal action in pursuit of compensation for property damage losses and the economic impact of physical injuries.

If insurance isn’t enough to cover someone’s losses, then a lawsuit can still be possible. Individuals familiar with California’s approach to personal injury lawsuits are in a position to take legal action, if necessary, following a serious car crash caused by another’s wrongdoing. Pursuing compensation is a reasonable reaction to a negligent occurrence that leads to injuries, property damage losses and reduced income.