What Is Comparative Fault and How Does It Work in California?

Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and if more than two vehicles are involved, assigning responsibility can be difficult. Accidents can be expensive and time consuming to deal with, especially if you don’t know the laws in your state. How does blame get assigned in these hard to determine situations?

Assigning fault after an accident varies depending on where you go in the United States. The most commonly used method is a comparative fault (also known as comparative negligence), where the blame for an accident is divvied up amongst the parties involved. But comparative fault can be sliced into different varieties, so it’s important to know the legal implications for accidents in your state. In a modified comparative fault state, a plaintiff will be awarded full damages if it’s determined they were less than 50% responsible for the accident. But under pure comparative fault, two parties are entitled to compensation equal to the portion of blame given. California uses the pure comparative fault method, so residents of the Bay Area need to know how it works.

How Does Pure Comparative Fault Work in California?

Here’s a hypothetical – you’re driving down a busy San Francisco street when you get t-boned by a sports car heading the other way. The driver was going too fast out of the parking lot of a local pub, so he may even be under the influence. But you aren’t exactly blameless either – you slowed down at the stop sign but rolled through without stopping completely. So the other driver was speeding and is possibly intoxicated, but you commit a moving violation blowing the stop sign. What happens here?

In this situation, your case will be decided in a courtroom by a judge and/or jury. Your lawyer will try to prove you are as minimally responsible for the accident as possible, but the decision will be out of your hands. The jury will weigh the information and assign a percentage of blame. If the damages total $100,000, that amount will be split between the two parties.

The jury decides that the other driver was speeding and ignoring traffic laws, but he wasn’t drunk. They also assign 15% of the blame to you for not coming to a full stop at the stop sign… In this decision, you’ll receive $85,000 in damages while the other driver gets $15,000. If this case had taken place in a modified comparative fault state, you would receive all $100,000 while the other driver walks away empty-handed.

Steps To Take After A Confusing Accident

If you’ve been injured in an accident and don’t know whether you’re at fault on not, contact your attorney right away. Your attorney will take in the facts of the case and represent you should your case go to trial.

James Rush has spent 15 years helping victims get compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, contact Rush Injury Law and schedule a consultation.

Preparing To Meet With A Personal Injury Lawyer

Say you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault. This accident has totaled your car and left you with severe injuries. Those severe injuries required several surgeries and medical procedures costing thousands of dollars and you’re having to miss work on top of that. You’re in pain, you’re suffering, and you want to take steps to have your life put back together. If this situation sounds like your current one, you probably are entitled to some compensation and you’ll need to file a personal injury claim. And before any personal injury claim, you’ll need to meet with a personal injury lawyer, like Rush Injury Law in San Francisco. But how do you prepare for that meeting?  Planning, planning, planning.

Information First

Your personal injury attorney will ask a lot of questions about your accident in order to get an idea of what happening. You’ll be asked to describe the accident – when it happened, why it happened, how it happened, and who saw it happen. Hopefully you’ve taken detailed notes about the incident. Strong details are usually the key to maximizing your compensation. You’ll want to tell your lawyer everything about the incident, including the weather at the time, condition of the road, and the names of any potential witnesses. And they’ll also ask about your pain and how bearable or unbearable it is.

Bring All Your Documentation With You

A car accident will inevitably bring lots of paperwork and documentation. If police are called, they will take statements and file a report. If injuries occur, doctors and hospitals will document them, and possibly order X-rays and MRIs. Statements will be made to insurance companies. All of these documents are helpful in your personal injury claim and you’ll need to collect as much evidence as you can to present to your personal injury attorney. Here’s a list of items you’ll want copies of:

-The police report of the accident.

-Any medical procedures like X-rays.

-Medical bills from procedures or prescription medicines.

-Documents from work noting your missed time due to injury.

-Any notes from conversations with either your insurance company or the other driver’s.

-A list of important dates regarding the accident and any medical treatment received.

-Photographs relevant to the accident.

You don’t need to have a word-for-word account of everything that’s happened since the accident, but the more documentation you can provide, the stronger your case will be.

Ask Good Questions

Your lawyer won’t be interrogating you about the accident; it’s an open dialogue where you’ll need to ask questions as well. You might want to inquire about how the lawyer will be communicating with you as the steps of the case proceed. You might want to ask how long the process will take and whether you should discuss the case with friends and family. Asking questions is important for understanding how your case will play out, along with your chances of winning it.

Hurt in a car accident in the Bay Area? Rush Injury Law has you covered. Their attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for accident victims and they’ll fight to get you proper compensation.

My Personal Injury Case: What Are The Possible Resolutions?

If you have enough evidence that your lawyer wants to move forward with your personal injury case, you likely stand a good chance of getting some type of compensation. But outcomes in personal injury claims can’t be boiled down to just winning and losing. Sometimes there’s a winner, sometimes there’s a loser, but often the case never makes it before a judge. The online legal library Nolo.com ran a poll amongst their readers and found that 70% of personal injury claims ended with the plaintiff receiving some form of compensation and only 4% of those rewards came from a court case. So don’t fret if you’re terrified of the courthouse.

Resolutions Outside The Courtroom

Two main reasons exist that keep a personal injury claim from going to trial. First, the injured party could decide to drop their claim all together. Perhaps they don’t have enough money to continue paying their lawyer, or the lawyer did some digging and concluded that compensation was unlikely. But dropping a personal injury claim has consequences. In some instances, you might even have to pay the other party’s legal fees.

But the top reason personal injury claims don’t go to trial is an out-of-court settlement. Settlement compensation can vary, but they usually require the plaintiff drop the lawsuit in exchange for money and bills paids. Settlements usually reward the injured party with cash and pick up the check on any bills or lost wages. Usually, this is the ideal outcome because victims get rewarded and defendants keep their name out of the news.

If You Go To Court

If an agreement can’t be reached before trial, the case will go before a judge. California practices the doctrine of comparative negligence, meaning that both parties can be deemed responsible for a portion of the accident. Winners and losers still exist in these types of cases, but an injured party who was 10% responsible for an accident will still be forfeiting some cash.

Say you were involved in a car accident on a wet road. You were going 10 miles over the speed limit when another car blew a stop sign and smashed into the front of your car. Both you and the other driver claim the other was at fault, so the case goes to court. The damages from the accident total $50,000, but the judge deems that the other driver was 80% responsible because they blew a stop sign, but you were 20% responsible because of the speeding. In this situation, the other driver gets $10,000 and you get $40,000. Comparative negligence usually means winners and losers are blended into a gray area where both parties can be compensated.

Contacting Your Attorney

Your lawyer in your personal injury case will know your odds of winning a court case and will proceed in the best manner. If you’ve been injured through someone else’s negligence and think you may be entitled to compensation, contact Rush Injury Law right away and schedule a consultation.

Prevent Personal Injury This Summer With These Tips

Summer is right around the corner and with it comes vacations, sun, beaches, and lots of other fun, family-friendly activities. Visions of summer often include children playing, people sunbathing, and other activities that don’t seem the least bit dangerous. But when summer comes, it brings some bad news as well as good. In the summer months, crime rates increase and DUI arrests skyrocket, especially in California. The nicer the weather, the more opportunities for criminals to hit victims. Children also become more susceptible to accidents as they are outside more and playing in pools or other bodies of water. Here are a few ideas to keep yourself out of the ER (and attorney’s office).

Keep A Closer Eye On The Kids

Summer is the best time of the year to be a kid. School is out, friends are around every day, and the weather permits all kinds of fun outdoor activities. Unfortunately, this also increases the risk that children get hurt. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children under 14 and a majority of those deaths occur during the warm summer months. If your kids are playing in a pool, they need your undivided attention. That phone call can wait until they’re done swimming (or at least make them get out of the pool while you answer it). It only takes a few minutes for an accident in a pool to result in permanent consequences. Fence off the pool area and let your children know they aren’t allowed inside without an adult.

Be Careful Driving (Especially At Night)

Let’s be blunt here – if you get a DUI in the age of Uber being in every major city, you probably aren’t scoring very high on any intelligence tests. But while drinking and driving is illegal, being stupid is not and people still try to get away with it every year. Overall, drunk driving incidents are down, but those totals increase in the warm summer months. If you want to avoid these clowns, take extra caution when driving at night. And make sure to be off the roads by the time the bars close. Increased police presence and checkpoints aren’t enough to deter the most reckless offenders, so always keep an eye on other cars.

Avoid Unfamiliar Areas

Vacation goers are often prime targets for criminals. They’re in an unfamiliar location, often carrying cash, and usually not completely in tune with their surroundings. All kinds of crime increases in the summer as teenagers are out of school, people are frequently not home, and excessive heat brings short tempers. Stay out of arguments and keep all doors and windows locked when you aren’t at home (or the hotel if you’re vacationing). And if a group on the beach is drinking, swearing, and blasting loud, inappropriate music, let the cops handle it.

Rush Injury Law handles personal injury cases of all sorts and their attorneys are experts in getting injured parties their proper compensation. If the summer heat has resulted in you getting assaulted or injured, contact James Rush now and schedule a consultation.

Who Is Responsible For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?

The death of a friend or loved one is a traumatic experience no matter how it happens. But when that death is caused by the negligence of another person, the stress is increased tenfold. For friends and family, many questions remain about how to handle the situation. Who should call the attorney? When should they call the attorney? What damages can the family receive?  The Rush Injury Law team has experience handling these delicate situations. Here’s a helpful guide on how to proceed with a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death vs Accidental Death

Remember there’s a difference between these two terms. An accidental death is usually the fault of the deceased person. Maybe the person blew a stop sign and got hit by a truck or failed to put on their seatbelt during a wet, rainy day. Wrongful death can only be caused by the negligence of another person. If a driver causes an accident because they had been drinking, then you’ll be looking at a wrongful death case.

Who Can Claim Wrongful Death?

The deceased can’t claim for themselves, so this task must be undertaken by a family member or loved one. But California law has specific statutes on who can file a claim like this. Usually, the claim must be made by a surviving family member. A spouse or domestic partner and children of the deceased are usually granted this claim without much hassle, but special exceptions can be made for stepchildren, parents, and other relatives if it can be proved they depended on the deceased person for financial stability.

If no direct relatives or dependents exist, a wrongful death claim can still be filed in California by the person who will receive the deceased person’s assets. This process is known as intestate succession and usually applies to people who die without making a will.

When Must a Claim Be Filed and What Compensation is Available?

In California, eligible parties must file within two years of the death of their loved one. If you don’t file within two years, you’ll likely kiss all possible compensation goodbye. Dealing with a wrongful death can take time to overcome, but make sure you don’t wait too long to make your claim.

Compensation for wrongful death suits comes in two different methods. First, damages are awarded to the estate of the deceased. These typically cover acts from the time of the incident to the death of the individual. Lost wages, medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, and funeral expenses will fall into this category. Next, damages will be awarded to the surviving family members (or dependants). These can be trickier to value since they fall under the non-economic damages statute. Mental anguish, depression, moral support, and future guidance fall under this heading.

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence can devastate families and communities. If you’ve suffered through the death of a loved one like this, contact Rush Injury Law immediately and schedule a consultation. James Rush will fight to make sure you are properly compensated for having to deal with the unexpected demise of someone you care about.

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