Caution sign indicating slippery floor with man walking up in background

California’s Doctrine of Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

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The cornerstone of most personal injury cases is negligence. Legally, negligence means carelessness or recklessness. A person or party who is negligent in executing their expected duty of care owed to another individual can be held liable for any injuries that may result.


In California, victims are entitled to seek financial compensation through the civil courts for their injuries in order to address the associated medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. However, if they themselves played a role in contributing to the likelihood of an accident, their final compensation can be diminished to a degree proportionate to their own responsibility. Let’s take a look at how this might occur.

Comparative Negligence

If you slip and fall in a convenience store because the store owner failed to clean up a spill in a timely manner, you can file an insurance claim to recover financial damages for your injuries. However, the claims examiner handling your case may argue that you were wearing slippery shoes at the time of the incident and that the injuries are therefore partly your own fault. If your case goes to trial, the jury has the right to reduce your settlement by the same amount it believes you to be so responsible. This means that if you were 10% culpable, you can expect to see a settlement amount of $100,000 reduced to $90,000.

Your Future Starts Now

This doctrine, known as the doctrine of comparative negligence, means that it is in the interest of a defendant’s legal team to exaggerate a victim’s own role in causing their injuries in order to find ways to reduce the worth of a claim. If you are wondering what you can do to maximize your financial compensation following a slip and fall incident or other accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today at Hales & Associates, Attorneys.

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