What Is Comparative Fault In California?

Find A California Personal Injury Attorney for Comparative Fault Claims

When it comes to car accident compensation, most jurisdictions follow either comparative fault or contributory negligence legislation. However, only a few states still use contributory negligence laws; thus, comparative fault is the standard. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in California to help you with your claim.


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Is it Possible to File an Injury Claim If You Are Partially to Blame?


Today, if someone is hurt and is somewhat to blame, they can still sue for damages in a California personal injury lawsuit. However, the plaintiff's damages judgment will be lowered by the percentage of culpability that the court allocates to the plaintiff using the "pure" comparative fault test.


The following is a breakdown of how California's pure comparative negligence statutes work:

  • Unlike other jurisdictions with a modified comparative fault system, California does not cap fault at 50%. This means that you might be able to recover damages for an accident in California even if you are 99 percent to blame.

  • The lesser the amount you can recover, the higher your percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff seeks $100,000 in damages but is found to be 70% at fault, the plaintiff will still be awarded $30,000 in damages.

  • You are likely to be able to recover the fraction of damages equivalent to your share of fault, regardless of how much you are at fault.

To correctly calculate the percentages, consult your California Personal Injury Attorney.

Personal injury lawsuits can occur in a variety of ways. They involve scenarios in which both parties in a personal injury lawsuit are somewhat to blame for the plaintiff's injuries and damages.

The fact is that not all personal injury disputes are cut-and-dry, with one party bearing all responsibility for the outcome, and California law has addressed this reality with a legal concept known as comparative negligence.


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Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Fault

A pure comparative fault rule is used in California. Following a car collision, the courts may assign blame to both parties. Even if a plaintiff is somewhat at fault, state law allows for at least partial restitution. You and your California Personal Injury Lawyer will have to discuss this while you're calculating the amount of damages you will sue for.


Comparative fault laws allow an at-fault plaintiff to collect a portion of their damages, whereas contributory negligence laws prevent a plaintiff from recovering anything for even 1% guilt. Because they are unfair to accident victims, most states have repealed obsolete contributory negligence statutes.

The Pure Comparative Fault Rule in California

Pure or modified comparative fault laws apply in states having comparative fault laws. In pure comparative fault states, such as California, a plaintiff can be at blame to any degree and yet be compensated.

In a pure comparative fault state, even if the courts deem the plaintiff 99 percent at fault for the accident, the plaintiff could still obtain 1% of the compensation amount. However, a plaintiff's power to collect beyond a specific proportion of fault is limited in a modified comparative fault state.

In states with modified comparative negligence, a plaintiff's allowed fault is frequently capped at 49 percent, 50 percent, or 51 percent. If the plaintiff is found to be greater than the maximum amount of guilt in an automobile accident, the plaintiff loses their entitlement to compensation. The courts in all comparative negligence states will award compensation based on the plaintiff's percentage of fault.

Employing a California Personal Injury Attorney must obtain the highest potential compensation award in a pure comparative fault state. Therefore, your lawyer will seek to reduce your percentage of fault to maximize your damages recovery.


Maintaining a degree of fault as near to 0% as possible will allow you to take home a larger settlement or jury verdict payment. The courts will order only an amount equivalent to the defendant's percentage of fault. The plaintiff will receive more compensation if the defendant's degree of responsibility is increased.


Damages Available In Personal Injury Claims in California

While you're deciding on how much you've contributed to a recent accident, you should also consider looking into the other factors involved in Personal Injury Settlements in California.

Damages are compensations that tantamount to the losses a victim of an unfortunate accident incurs. In theory, these payable damages are meant to get you to a financial and physical condition before the accident happened.

There are three types of payable damages in California: Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Losses

Economic damages are meant to reimburse a plaintiff for losses that can be quantified in monetary terms. Economic damages are assessed by calculating the out-of-pocket losses that an injured party has or would have due to their injuries.


Here are a few examples of economic losses:

  • Earning Capacity Loss

  • Medical Expenses

  • Wages that have been lost

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Non-Economic Damages


Non-economic damages are meant to reimburse losses considered subjective, but they do not always pay out-of-pocket expenses. Compensation for non-economic damages may include:

  • Emotional Distress

  • Pain And Suffering

  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are the third form of damages that a California court can award. Punitive damages are meant to penalize the culprit and are only granted when the defendant's actions are particularly detrimental. Punitive damages are exceedingly uncommon, with about 5% of all judgments including them.

General Personal Injury Claims Time Limits


When a plaintiff is injured due to someone else's negligence, they have two years from the date of the injury to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. Car accidents, truck accidents, and other types of accidents fall within this category.


Please note that there are a few exceptions to this time limit, such as when the plaintiff could not have found the harm until later, but they are uncommon.


Find A Personal Injury Attorney in California


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