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.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

The motto of all healthcare professional is “do no harm”, but despite this, medical errors still occur. According to the Medical Malpractice Center, there are up to 19,000 medical malpractice claims in the United States every year. Malpractice can come in many different forms, from surgical mistakes to misdiagnoses, even for improper medication prescriptions. Over $38 billion in damages was paid out to malpractice victims between 1986 and 2010 and all doctors are taught to prepare for at least one malpractice suit in their lifetime.

Despite nearly 200,000 deaths per year in the United States (making it the third largest killer), only 20% of medical malpractice suits result in compensation for the victim. For a medical malpractice suit to materialize, a few factors must exist:

-A medical professional failed to provide an adequate level of care or didn’t adhere to the standards of a doctor or surgeon (note: this includes dentists as well). Medical providers are sworn by their professional duty to patients. Any time a patient schedules an appointment with a doctor, they enter this professional relationship.

-The patient must have sustained an injury caused by the negligence of the medical professional. If you think a doctor did something negligent but you weren’t harmed by it, you won’t have much of a case.

-The injury had serious consequences, such as pain, suffering, disability, and loss of income. If you receive plastic surgery and simply aren’t happy with the results, you again will not have much of a case.

Some examples of medical malpractice include an improper diagnosis, unneeded surgery, failure to order the correct testing procedures, inability to recognize symptoms, or not taking the patient’s history into account.

Note that the important thing here is negligence – medical professionals owe a duty to their patients and violating that duty could result in malpractice. In California, you have 30 days to report the injury after it occurs, or two years following the medical procedure.

Preparing Your Case

Medical records are critical in medical malpractice cases. You and your attorney will need to prove the medical professional acted negligently in causing your injury. Detailed medical records are key in determining the compensation you’re entitled to.

In California, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000. Non-economic damages (or general damages) refer to things like anxiety, depression, and loss of life enjoyment that are hard to determine monetarily. There’s no cap on the amount you are able to recoup for medical procedures, tests, and doctors visits made in attempt to heal the malpractice injury. There’s also no cap on the amount of damages for lost wages a victim can receive.

Doctors and hospital are supposed to be healers and caregivers, but medical professionals are human beings who are just as susceptible to mistakes as the rest of us. However, these mistakes can lead to personal injury or even wrongful death. If you or a family member have been injured or killed due to medical negligence, contact Rush Injury Law today and find out what your options are.

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.

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