California 50/50 Fault Car Accidents
Multiple Parties Be Found At-Fault in a Car Accident?
The driver who is found liable for causing a car accident will be the one responsible for having to pay for damages and/or injuries done to the victim(s). However, there are times where the at-fault driver is not entirely clear and more than one individual could be held responsible for contributing to the crash. Extensive review and analysis must be conducted in order to ensure that a suitable punishment is administered to those who caused the collision.
Who Determines Fault?
Insurance companies are the ones that determine who is at-fault in an accident. They distribute a relative percentage of fault to each party based on the driver’s behavior during the initial impact. In the state of California, this is known as comparative liability.
The claims adjuster will determine the degree of fault based on the circumstances tied to the accident. Overall, insurance adjusters will have to look into state laws to get an idea of which driver(s) acted negligently, as well as how to distribute liability.
In some cases, insurance companies may pay an appropriate portion of the insured driver’s share. An example could be: Company X has a driver who is 60 percent at-fault while Company Y has a driver who is 40 percent at-fault. Company X may pay 60 percent of the settlement while Company Y pays the amount of 40 percent.
It is possible that insurance adjusters may work with their clients to figure out the most suitable percentage of fault for each party involved. Drivers could, of course, advocate to get the lowest percentage of fault with the help of their legal counsel. However, if there is no agreement between the insurance adjuster and the driver, then it is up to the court to decide who is primarily at-fault for the incident and to what degree.
Factors Affecting Fault
Insurance adjusters are expected to review various forms of information to get an idea of who is mostly at-fault. The three factors that are considered when determining fault include:
- Reviewing police reports.
- Photographs of the incident.
- Witness statements.
Types of Negligence Laws
- Contributory Negligence In states that abide by contributory negligence laws, a person who was injured because of their own negligence is not expected to collect any damages from the other party who was accused of causing the accident. Someone who is severely injured from implementing even a slight level of negligence would not be able to collect damages, even against a highly negligent defendant. Take the following example: on a two way street, a drunk driver is speeding in one lane. On another lane, which is going in the opposite direction, another driver is seen driving at a normal speed. The driver, who is not speeding, goes slightly over the central-line, thus getting into an accident with the speeding driver. Since the non-speeding driver contributed to a slight amount of negligence, they will not receive any money for injuries or losses sustained from the accident even though the first driver was under the influence of alcohol.
- Comparative NegligenceThe responsibility and available damages are primarily based on the negligence of each party involved in the accident. Take the following example: a driver is speeding while an oncoming car is ahead of them. The car ahead fails to make a signal to turn left. However, they proceed to make the turn regardless of not signalling, thus contributing to negligence. The driver who is making the left turn isn’t capable of predicting the negligent driver’s speed. A car crash occurs and the driver who didn’t turn their left signal on is seriously hurt. That injured driver’s damages, for example, will decrease by the percentage of their failure to appropriately judge the speed of the oncoming driver who contributed to causing the accident and for failing to signal.
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we offer experienced attorneys that are readily available to help you get the justice and the maximum compensation you deserve. If we do not win, you owe us nothing. There is no financial risk when making a free consultation to get your case started. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] for immediate legal assistance.
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