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.

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.

I Was Hit By A Car Riding My Bike. What Should I Do Next?

We don’t think of bike riding as a hazardous activity, but injuries to bikers are all too common, especially for those biking on city streets. If you rode a bike as a kid, you inevitably fell, skinned a knee, and fought back tears as your parents put Bactrim on it. But for adults commuting by bike in major cities, a skinned knee isn’t the only thing to worry about. Bicycle traffic fatalities are on the rise, and California really isn’t helping the issue. More bicycling fatalities happen in California than any other state in the union and San Francisco can be especially dangerous for bikers.

Keep Yourself Safe

If you’re riding a bike in an urban area, you’re at risk of major injury (or worse). Most bicycles weigh under 50 lbs while the lightest car on the road is still hovering at close to 2000 lbs. So it doesn’t matter how or where an accident happens, a car and bike colliding is going to do more damage to the bike and rider than the car and driver. This means that following the rules of the road is critical. Bikers should always ride with the flow of traffic and never against it. Be mindful of stop lights and signs and always signal if you’re making a turn onto a different road. In California, bicyclists should ride on the right side of the road and have reflectors on their bike at night.

Hurt On A Bike

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you’ll be entitled to the same damages as a car accident victim provided the driver was proved to be at fault. This works the same way as accidents involving two cars – the comparative fault is used to determine who is responsible. If the car driver blew a stop sign, but the biker did not signal their turn, both parties might receive some degree of blame (ie. the driver might be assigned 80% of the blame and the cyclist 20%).

If you’ve been hurt in a biking accident, call the police right away. Act like you would in a car accident situation and take the necessary steps.

Take photos of the accident, including the condition of the bike, car, and injuries to either party.

Call the police immediately.

Don’t move to the side of the road. Let the accident remain as is until the police arrive.

Get the name, license plate, and insurance company information from the driver.

Talk to any witness and ask them what they saw.

Bicycle injuries are unfortunately ever common in California, and you’ll want to have insurance, even if you just ride the bike 1 mile to work. California law only requires drivers to carry $15,000 in insurance coverage. Be prepared to cover yourself for a while, especially if the driver denies fault. If you’ve been injured in an accident like this, contact Rush Injury Law today and get the compensation for injuries that you deserve.

What Should I Do If I Was Involved in a Hit and Run?

A car accident is one of the scariest moments in any person’s life. And it’s not just injury and car damage that victims need to worry about – you’ll also be thrust into a tense situation with a total stranger. You don’t know this person or understand their current situation. Being forthright is critical when handling these incidents, but what if you don’t get a chance to handle it at all?

California is home to one of the country’s most unfortunate trends – accidents involving a driver who bolts the scene. According to the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County had 28,000 hit and run incidents in 2015, which accounted for an astonishing 50% of all traffic accidents. Most of these incidents involve only minor damage, like someone striking a car in a restaurant parking lot and just taking off without leaving a note. But plenty still causes bodily harm and some have even been fatal.

A driver is guilty of a hit and run if they leave the scene of an accident before police arrive without providing any of their information. A driver leaving the scene without giving contact or insurance is guilty of a misdemeanor if there was any damage to the other vehicle. And if the other driver was injured, a felony charge may result, especially in the state of California. But despite stiff penalties, hit and run accidents still happen and you need to know what to do if you’re the victim of one.

If You’re Unharmed, Stay Calm

Unless there’s a serious injury, it’s important to keep your composure after a driver hits you and takes off. Getting angry or emotional won’t make the other driver come back. Remember that cars are much, much easier to fix than bones. Keeping your wits will also help you better remember specifics of the accident, like the color or model of the hit and run driver’s car, or maybe even a partial license plate. The more information you can give the police, the easier it will be for them to find the perpetrator.

DO NOT Chase The Other Driver

Always remember what Jules Winnfield said in the diner in Pulp Fiction – we’re going to be cool here. Chasing down the car who hit you might feel like vindication, but this will only lead to more problems. Maybe the other driver isn’t licensed or insured, or maybe they have warrants out for arrest. That’s not something you want to find out in a one-on-one altercation. Leave the confrontation to the police, who you should immediately be calling anyway.

Call Your Insurance Company and Lawyer

Someone who hits you and leaves the scene is committing a crime. And if that accident caused injuries, it will likely be a felony. A hit and run victim’s first call should always the police, but then make sure to contact your insurance company and a lawyer. Rush Injury Law has experience getting car accident victims the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been victimized by a hit and run driver in the San Francisco Bay area, contact Rush Injury Law today.

Police Reports In Car Accidents Are Sometimes A Necessary Tool

Most drivers won’t readily admit fault in an automobile accident and insurance companies aren’t eager to pay out in “he said, she said” type claims. If you’ve been involved in a car crash that produces significant damage, it’s important to make sure the police are contacted and a report is made. A police report is often the only thing that will keep your claim from being denied.

Not all accidents require a cop to be on the scene. A scratched bumper, busted tail light, or any other small damages might not add up to your insurance deductible. A minor fender bender where there’s only $200 worth a damage is something you won’t file an insurance claim for. If no one is injured and the cars are both fine, drivers will usually share their information but rarely does a claim result.

So why is a police report so important? We like to think the world is full of honest, trustworthy people, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. A driver who smashes up the front of your car may offer to pay for repairs, but if you don’t file a police report and the driver denies fault, you might be looking at a long battle between two insurance companies who don’t want to pay up. A police report has specific information on it that insurance adjusters want to see before making their own individual reports.

What’s in a Police Report?

A police report will have information that a driver involved in an accident might not remember. Victims of an accident are often emotionally distraught and might have trouble remembering all the different aspects of their ordeal.

At the scene of an accident, cops will record lots of details that drivers might miss. Time and date, weather conditions, the address of the accidents, names of witnesses, and the contact information of everyone involved will be included on these reports, so insurance companies want to see copies of them.

Police also have the authority to assign fault in car accidents and hand out citations. Getting the other driver to admit fault to a police officer is usually a good sign for your claim.

How Do I Obtain a Police Report?

Getting a copy of a police report is a relatively easy task. The responding officer will usually give everyone his card with a phone number for the station. If you aren’t offered one, be sure to ask before everyone leaves the scene.

Call the station and ask for the officer who responded to your accident. You’ll usually need to leave a message, so don’t be long-winded and use some information about the accident to identify yourself. Sometimes you won’t even need to talk to the officer; the station receptionist often has access to police reports of this nature.

If you can’t get anywhere with the station, contact the local courthouse or insurance company of the other driver(s). And be sure to contact Rush Injury Law to discuss your options if you’ve been in a car accident in the San Francisco area.

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