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Is California a contributory or comparative negligence state?

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2021 | Personal Injury

The comparative fault law is also known as comparative negligence. The law in California allows an injured person to recover damages even if he or she were partly responsible for the accident. If your role in the accident was 30%, you’d pay for 30% of the damage. Thus, the state is a comparative fault state. Comparative fault applies in most personal injury cases in the state.

What is comparative fault law?

In a lawsuit, the party seeking compensation for damages is the plaintiff, and the party to pay is the defendant. In most states, when the defendant is at fault, the plaintiff will receive 100% of the damages. However, in California, the two parties have liability in a personal injury case due to comparative negligence. If the defendant claims that the plaintiff contributed to the injury, the jury decides on the percentage of fault. The percentage is then deducted from the plaintiff’s award.

“Comparative fault” vs. “contributory negligence” in California

Since California is a comparative fault state, a plaintiff can recover damages when he or she has some responsibility for the accident. Initially, the state used the contributory negligence law. Under this law, any party responsible for the accident was not liable for any damages.

A plaintiff primarily responsible for an accident

Comparative negligence is split into modified comparative negligence and pure comparative negligence. California uses the former while most states use the latter. The modified comparative negligence law uses a 50% or 51% rule. Thus, in a 50% state, the plaintiff won’t receive any damages when he or she is 50% or more at fault. On the other hand, the plaintiff won’t receive any damages if he or she is 51% or more at fault in a 51% state.

An attorney comes in handy during a personal injury case. Ensure you contact a personal injury attorney since he or she can help you obtain the ideal compensation.


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