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.

Accidental Death Cases

Death isn’t something we like to think about, but it’s a part of life and when it happens accidentally, there are lots of factors to consider. California has one of the lowest rates of accidental death in the country (which is obviously a good thing), but when it does happen, you’ll have questions that only lawyers can answer. The team at Rush Injury Law has years of experience dealing with accidental fatalities. If someone was negligent in the accident, you deserve justice. Our attorneys are dedicated to getting compensation for families who have lost a loved one.

The most common causes of accidental death in California are auto accidents, but injuries, falls, and drug use are contributors as well. According to records, car crashes are the 15th most common cause of death in California, falls are 23rd, other injuries 26th, drug use 42nd, and drownings 45th. These statistics may not seem high, but accidents accounted for nearly 10,000 fatalities. More importantly, accidents are the leading cause of death in children under 15 after congenital birth defects and low birth weight. California’s strict gun laws thankfully keep firearm deaths to a minimum. 

Accidental death cases don’t always end with the victim’s family receiving compensation. There’s a legal difference between wrongful death and accidental death.  If a person is killed because they pulled in front of your car and got hit, that’s likely to be ruled just an accidental death and the deceased at fault. But if a driver has a few drinks and hits a pedestrian, that will be wrongful death and that driver is in deep trouble.

Car accidents are the most prevalent reason that attorneys deal with accidental death cases. Reasons that an automobile accident that might cause a wrongful death case include speeding, failing to yield to stop signs, failing to yield to oncoming traffic, and driving while distracted. Drunk drivers still kill far too many people every year, but deaths from distracted driving are on the rise.

There’s nothing a lawsuit or financial compensation can do to bring back a loved one. Accidental deaths are always tragic; a family member is taken too soon, leaving behind a grieving family. Grief eases with time, but the financial burden families endure when they lose the breadwinner is devastating. When the high earner of the household is taken away, all of a sudden college funds, housing payments, and medical expenses could be unbearable. That’s why it’s critical to build your case through the help of an attorney.

Rush Injury Law knows what to do when these unfortunate events happen. No amount of litigation can ever bring back a family member, but it can ease the burden they leave behind when it comes to paying bills. Wrongful death cases are never easy. Wounds can be reopened during investigations when painful memories surface. But it’s important to discover all the facts if you think your loved one was killed with negligence. The team at Rush Injury Law will fight to get the compensation you deserve.

How to Handle a Teenage Driver

For a teenager, getting a driver’s license is one of the most exciting times of their lives. For a parent, it’s a white-knuckled, hair-raising experience fraught with perils real and imagined. Teenage drivers have high accident rates and car crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged 16-19. Your teenager views getting a driver’s license as a sign of responsibility and adulthood, but no one on the road is more dangerous than the 16-year old with their first license. Rush Injury Laws knows the concerns parents have about their kids getting into car accidents.

Make Firm, But Fair Rules For The Road

It’s important to set some rules for the road when your teenager gets behind the driver’s seat. The state of California has several restrictions on teen driving, such as no driving between 11 pm and 5 am and the banning of passengers under 20 years of age (unless accompanied by an adult). This is a good start, but parents would be wise to implement a few more.

Limit the number of passengers

The more people in the car, the more distractions for the driver. Friends want to tag along for the ride when a new driver gets on the road, but limit the number of friend pickups to 1 or 2.

Set driving boundaries  

The state of California doesn’t limit where teens can drive, but it’s not a bad idea to set a limit on how many miles away from home they can go. A novice drivers on a road they aren’t familiar with is a recipe for trouble. Only letting your teen driver go 20-30 miles away from the house is a good way to get peace of mind without restricting your child’s freedom.

No texting and driving

This rule might be difficult to enforce when your teen is on the road, but it’s a topic that needs to be discussed. According to the Center for Disease Control, you’re 23 times more likely to get in an accident while texting and driving. Talk openly about this policy and set a good example when your the driver and the teen is the passenger.

What Do If Your Teen Is In An Accident?

First of all, don’t panic. Teen crashes are common, but only 0.003% are fatal according to the United States Department of Transportation. A car is just a hunk of metal that can be replaced. But remember, the state of California made you put your John Hancock on your child’s license. This means their accident is your accident. Most accidents will be fully covered by insurance, but if your child as a history of reckless, you might be on the hook for the full damages.

Make sure the police are contacted. A police report is often the only thing preventing the case from becoming a ‘he-said-she-said’ argument. Take pictures of the damage on both cars for the insurance companies. An accident often puts great emotional stress on a teenager, so don’t immediately reprimand them. If your child was at fault, punishment can come later.

If your child was injured in a car accident in the San Francisco area, be sure to contact Rush Injury Law. Our lawyers are experts in car accidents involving teens and we’ll fight to get the compensation you deserve.

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