To recover damages or compensation in a personal injury case, you must be ready to prove the other party was negligent or at fault, leading to your injuries and losses. Typically, most personal injury cases will come down to negligence. Negligence is the legal doctrine that you must prove to hold the other party accountable for your injuries and losses in a personal injury claim. 

Generally speaking, when a person behaves recklessly and causes another person to suffer an injury or loss, he/she should be liable for his/her damages under the legal doctrine of negligence. 

Therefore, what happens if you are partially negligent or at fault in an accident? The answer to this question is where comparative negligence law comes into play.

If you want to learn more about what could happen in a personal injury case where you are partially at fault, this article is yours.

What is Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases?

If you have a personal injury case, it is vital that you understand comparative negligence law and how this legal theory can affect your case's outcome. Undoubtedly, the aftermath of an accident can be confusing, especially if you are partially at fault or liable.

Luckily, our state has some of the fairest and most favorable laws for accident victims in the whole country to ensure they receive fair compensation for their losses. According to comparative negligence or fault law, when you suffer injuries or losses in an accident and are partially liable, you can still recover your deserved damages. 

However, the amount of compensation or damages you will receive will be proportionate to your level or degree of negligence. While some states do not allow plaintiffs or claimants in a personal injury lawsuit to receive damages if they are more than 50% or 51% at fault, in this state, these limitations do not apply.

Therefore, even if you are 99% liable or at fault in an accident, you will still receive your 1% compensatory damages under pure comparative negligence law. It is important to note that comparative negligence law will apply in personal injury lawsuits and third-party insurance claims. For instance, the claim you file with another party insurer after suffering injuries in a car accident. 

In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge presiding over your case will determine your level or degree of liability to know how much you deserve as compensation for your losses and damages resulting from the accident. 

However, in the case of third-party insurance claims, insurance providers use comparative negligence legal doctrine to determine the percentage of the compensation they will pay you for your losses and damages.

That is why it is critical and vital to document your accident case while the evidence is still fresh in the eyewitnesses' memories. Below are some of the evidence that can help you prove fault in a personal injury case for the maximum compensation that you truly deserve:

  • Eyewitnesses' testimonies
  • Pictures of the accident scene, including your injuries, vehicle damages, weather condition, road condition, road signs, and any other relevant information
  • Surveillance videos
  • Your medical bill receipts, including therapy costs
  • Receipts of your vehicle repair costs (car accident cases)
  • The police report

If you are dealing with an insurance company of the at-fault party, they will depend on this crucial evidence when assigning blame for the accident. The more evidence you have, the higher your chances of achieving utmost compensatory damages for your losses and injuries resulting from the accident.

Example of a Scenario Where Pure Comparative Negligence Law Can Apply

Suppose you are driving on a busy highway and another vehicle runs a red light at an intersection right in front of your car. You see the vehicle but cannot stop your car in time because you are driving slightly above the posted speed limit for that region. Then, you smash into the other vehicle at the intersection.

If that is the case, you can still file a lawsuit or insurance claim with the other party's insurer to cover your losses and damages. They will review your claim and find that the other party ran the red light because they were texting or doing other attention-taking activities while on the wheel. 

Since the other party was distracted, the insurer can decide to award 60% of the fault to them and 40% to you because you were speeding, making you unable to stop in time to prevent the collision. According to pure comparative negligence law, you will receive 60% of your compensatory damages from the other party's insurer.

Therefore, if your vehicle repair costs $2,000, the other party insurer will pay you $1,200, and you will handle the rest of the costs. However, since you were 40% liable for the accident, the other party can also decide to file an insurance claim with your auto insurance provider to receive their 40% damages as well.

If you are dealing with an insurance adjuster, it is wise to talk to an attorney for legal advice and representation. Your injury attorney will know how to negotiate with these people because they are ever ready to make you settle for less than you deserve or even deny your claim. 

Generally, your injury attorney can make all the difference if you want to achieve the utmost compensatory damages on your insurance claim or lawsuit.

Common Sources of Comparative Negligence Personal Injury Claims

Comparative negligence law can apply in nearly any type of personal injury case. Typically, the most common comparative negligence claims are due to:

Car or Auto Accidents

Undoubtedly, most personal injury cases are due to car accidents that occur almost daily on our roads and highways. Generally, most car accidents often involve compensation claims of comparative fault or negligence because, in most cases, multiple parties are involved and several proximate causes of the accident. 

Below are a few examples of auto accidents where comparative negligence law could apply:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Truck accidents
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Bus accidents
  • Ridesharing auto accidents
  • Collision with a DUI driver

In the aftermath of a car accident involving multiple parties, identifying the at-fault or liable party might be confusing and challenging. However, immediately when the dust settles, each party involved will start pointing fingers at each other because nobody wants to take the liability. In some cases, car accident liability can also fall on non-drivers, including:

  • Construction workers or crews
  • The city
  • Vehicle manufacturers

To stand a chance of achieving the compensation you truly deserve, even if you are partially at fault, it is advisable to hire an attorney to review your case details for knowledgeable legal representation.

Premises Liability Accident

Another common source of comparative negligence claims is premises liability. Premises liability law holds every property owner liable for injuries that people suffer in their properties. These kinds of accidents can happen in the following type of places:

  • Amusement parks
  • Workplace or 
  • Restaurants

Under this law, every property owner has a legal duty to ensure their properties or establishments are free from hazards that can injure an employee or any other person within the premises. They can do this by:

  • Ensuring the property is adequately maintained
  • Inspecting the property regularly to ensure it is free from hazards and possible hazards
  • Giving adequate warning to employees and visitors of any hazardous condition on the premises

While every private property owner has a legal duty to ensure his/her property is hazard-free, some accidents can occur due to another person's negligence. That is where comparative negligence law comes into play. According to pure comparative negligence law, if you are partially at fault in a premises liability accident, your damages will be proportionate to your share of liability.

Product Liability Accidents

Product liability accidents also involve claims where the injury victim or plaintiff was at fault or partially at fault for the accident. According to product liability law, any person who manufactures and knowingly sells a defective product or part will be strictly liable for any injury the buyer suffers due to the product's defectiveness. 

For the sake of this statute, the manufacturer will also carry the liability, even if he/she was not negligent. Below are types of product defects where strict product liability law can apply:

  1. Manufacturing defects – According to product liability law, a product contains a manufacturing defect if it differs from the manufacturer's specifications and design or when it differs from other similar units of the same product line
  2. Inadequate warning defects – According to product liability law, manufacturers, sellers, and distributors of products have a legal responsibility to provide proper warnings and instructions before any product leaves their hands. When you suffer an injury due to a warning defect, you can sue either of these parties for damages under this law
  3. Design defects – Typically, a product has a defective design if It does not perform as safely as sober or ordinary consumers would expect when used in a reasonable and foreseeable manner. A product could also be defective if the benefits of the design do not exceed the possible dangers it can cause

Luckily, comparative negligence law applies in personal injury cases involving product liability. Lawmakers acknowledge that an accident or personal injury case involving product liability could also be partially due to the victim or plaintiff's negligent actions or behaviors. 

Depending on your degree of negligence or fault, the judge could reduce your potential damages award in this kind of situation. It is worth noting that these are not the only possible sources of comparative negligence claims. Other sources could include (but are not limited to):

  • Medical malpractice incidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Electrocution accidents
  • Burn accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

What to Expect in an Injury Case Involving More than Two Liable Parties

In some cases, more than two parties could be liable for your injury and losses. In that kind of situation, the distribution of damages will work no differently than when there is just one defendant, according to comparative negligence law. 

Typically, the jury or the judge presiding over your case will apportion liability between all the parties, including you (the plaintiff) and the multiple defendants involved. The damages you will receive when you win your case will depend on the degree of fault each defendant has in causing the accident, which led to your injuries and losses.

In an accident involving multiple parties, you should expect every party to come with his/her lawyer. Therefore, you should take ample time to find a relentless and skilled attorney that can aggressively represent your best interest in court for the maximum compensation you need to have your life back on track again.

What Happens When I Suffer Injuries and Losses in an Accident, and I am Not at Fault?

Undoubtedly, some accidents are sorely due to another person's fault. When you suffer injuries and losses in an accident because of another person's fault, you have to prove that he/she was negligent to receive the compensatory damages you deserve. That is why it is critical to retain the services of an injury attorney as soon as you can after suffering injuries in an accident. 

Your attorney will gather relevant evidence to help you prove liability during your compensation claim against the at-fault party. To prove liability in a negligence case, your attorney must prove the following elements of negligence beyond a reasonable doubt to show the alleged defendant was at fault: 

  1. Duty of care – According to the circumstances of the accident, the defendant had a duty of care to prevent foreseeable accidents
  2. Breach of duty – The defendant did breach his/her legal duty of care by behaving or failing to act reasonably as a standard sober person would under similar circumstances
  3. Causation – If it was not due to the defendant's actions, behavior or inaction, you could not suffer injuries or losses that you currently have
  4. Damages – You did suffer injuries and losses because of the defendant's inaction, actions, or behavior

If your attorney cannot provide adequate evidence to prove these elements, the defendant's attorney can create doubt on your claim, and you could be ineligible for damages. That is why you need an experienced and skilled attorney in your corner to stand a chance of achieving the maximum compensatory damages in your injury claim.

Damages You Could Recover in a Comparative Negligence Injury Claim

Whether you are partially negligent in causing your injury or the other party is solely responsible for your injuries, you deserve adequate damages for your losses. If you win your comparative negligence claim, the court will award you the following types of compensatory damages:

Economic Damages

As the name suggests, economic damages are available in a comparative negligence claim to compensate you for your financial losses resulting from the accident, including:

  • Medical expenses, including over-the-counter (OTC) costs
  • Therapy and rehabilitation costs
  • Property damage or loss
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity, especially if you have lost a body limb due to the accident

Non-Economic Damages

Lawmakers also acknowledge the possibility of non-economic losses, which you cannot attach a dollar figure to. If everything goes in your favor on your injury claim, you will receive non-economic damages for the following possible losses:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lessened quality of life
  • Psychological pain
  • Lack of ability to enjoy life

Punitive Damages

If you have an aggressive injury attorney on your side, you could also recover punitive damages in your claim. Typically, punitive damages could also be available in a comparative negligence claim if your attorney can prove that the defendant's behavior was gross or intentional. 

Punitive damages in a personal injury claim are available to punish the offender and deter people with similar habits. 

When you suffer an injury or a loss due to another person's malice or negligence, the most critical step you can make is deciding which injury attorney will represent you on your compensation claim. There are several attorneys in this area of law, but not every attorney can give you the personalized attention you deserve during these times of need. 

Apart from being experienced, ensure the attorney you will choose to settle for has the following other qualifications or qualities:

  • He/she is credible and accredited
  • He/she is licensed
  • He/she is qualified
  • He/she is friendly and courteous

Even if you are partially negligent in the accident, a reliable attorney will know the right and viable evidence to use in your case to prove that your degree of fault or negligence was less for maximum compensation.

Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

Comparative negligence injury claims can be challenging and confusing, especially if it is your first time dealing with these unique compensation claims.

When seeking damages for an injury case in which you were somewhat or partially liable, it is wise to consult with a reliable attorney for legal assistance henceforth. We invite you to contact credible injury attorneys at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for an obligation-free evaluation and review of your entire case. 

Our attorneys have significant experience in comparative negligence claims, and we are more than eager to help you pursue the compensation you truly deserve from all the involved parties. Call us at 424-231-2013 to discuss your injury case with our understanding attorneys for the prompt legal representation you deserve.