How Do Courts Apportion Liability in California Personal Injury Cases Involving Multiple At-Fault Parties?

While some California accidents are caused solely by one party’s negligence, the more common scenario is one in which multiple parties share responsibility for an accident. For example, a California car accident may initially be caused by one motorist’s negligence in failing to follow the traffic laws. However, if another motorist who approaches the scene of the accident is not paying attention, they may cause a subsequent collision involving some of the same parties.

The result is a situation in which there may be multiple victims, as well as several motorists who are partially liable for a single accident. This may even include a determination that an accident victim is partially responsible for the accident that resulted in their injuries.

In such cases, California law does not prevent an injured party from filing a California personal injury lawsuit. However, California courts will use the method of “pure comparative fault” to determine which motorists can recover for their injuries and how much they are able to recover.

California’s Pure Comparative Fault System

In California, if a defendant is able to show some evidence that the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident, they can request that the judge read California Civil Jury Instruction 405 to the jury. This instruction allows the jury to assign the plaintiff some responsibility for causing the accident.

A related instruction informs the jury that if it believes that the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident, the jury must assign each of the defendants as well as the plaintiff a percentage of the blame, totaling 100%. Then, the jury will determine the total amount of damages the plaintiff suffered. From there, the judge will reduce the amount of the damages actually sustained by the plaintiff by their own percentage of fault. Similarly, each of the defendants will be responsible for their percentage of the damages.

Importantly, there is no bar on a plaintiff’s ability to recover damages based on their own percentage of fault. This means that even a plaintiff who is found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident can pursue compensation for their injuries; however, their award would be reduced by their percentage of fault, as noted above.

While a pure comparative fault analysis is preferable to alternative analyses used in other jurisdictions, it is still very important for a plaintiff to attempt to prevent a jury from finding that the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident. A dedicated California personal injury attorney can assist victims in the preparation and effective presentation of their case in hopes of preventing a jury from determining they were partially at fault for the accident that resulted in their injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a California Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a California car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated California personal injury attorneys at Sharifi Firm have extensive experience handling a wide range of California personal injury cases, including those involving multiple defendants. We have also successfully represented many plaintiffs who were fractionally at fault for the accident that caused their injuries and helped them obtain maximum compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Sharifi Firm, call 866-4-CAR-ACCIDENT.

More Blog Posts:

California Court Discusses Potentially Conflicting Witness Testimony, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, January 5, 2018

Hit-and-Run Accidents in Southern California, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2018

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