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Understanding Comparative Negligence

Dec 20, 2014

You’ll hear lots of new words and phrases if you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident that resulted in injury. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we work hard to ensure our clients always understand what’s being discussed and how it might impact their case. With that in mind, here’s a quick primer on comparative negligence, which is sometimes a factor in settling auto accident claims.


You’re probably familiar with the concept of negligence. Put simply, negligence is an act or a failure to act when a duty is owed to another person. For example, a store owner is responsible for keeping his store safe and clean. If someone slips and falls because the store owner didn’t clean up a spill (failure to act), the store owner could be found negligent and could then be held responsible for medical costs and other damages.

Comparative negligence takes this concept and spreads it to the injured party in circumstances where both parties are partially responsible for the incident. In the above example, for instance, a storekeeper could be found only partially negligent if you are shown on security recordings to be running in the store — your actions increased the chances of a slip and thus leave you partially to blame for the outcome.

So how does this apply to auto accidents? In California, the court will first examine a case to determine how fault is shared between the parties. Each party will be assigned a percentage value of the fault; damages due will be based on that percentage value. If, for example, you are awarded $10,000 in damages but are found to be 10% responsible, 10% will be removed from the total amount leaving you with $9,000. If you’re found to be 50% at fault, you’ll receive $5,000, and so on.

As you can see, comparative negligence can dramatically alter the outcome of your case. Working with a reputable and experienced accident attorney in Los Angeles is the best way to ensure you are protected. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit or contact us at (888) 341-9802.

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