Determining Fault in a California Auto Accident

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Let’s take a look at how California determines fault when it comes to auto accidents.

As careful as you may be when you’re out on the road, auto accidents do happen. First, it’s important to make sure that anyone who has suffered an injury—including you—receives the medical treatment they need. As you wait for the ambulance to arrive, you may be wondering who was at fault for the accident. Was the other driver texting? Did you run a red light? Or, were you both to blame in some way? Let’s take a look at how California determines fault when it comes to auto accidents, and how you can go about collecting compensation for your injuries and damage to your vehicle.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

Like many states, California is considered a “comparative negligence” state, meaning that you can recover compensation from another at-fault party, even if you are also partly to blame for the incident. However, the amount of compensation you ultimately collect will be reduced by your percentage of fault. So, if a judge determined that you were 30 percent responsible for the accident, you would only be able to collect 70 percent of the total damages. 

An Example of Comparative Negligence

For instance, let’s say a driver failed to see that you were making a right turn and barrelled into your car. But, you had also failed to stop your car completely and look both ways before making the turn. The police report and any witness testimony could be used to determine that you were roughly 20 percent to blame for the accident. If you were awarded $20,000 in damages, you’d only be entitled to receive 80 percent of that amount, or $16,000. 

Navigating the Legal Process

As soon as you suffer an injury from an auto accident, you should seek medical care. Even if you don’t require immediate attention, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your physician within the next few days to make sure that you haven’t suffered any hard-to-detect injuries, such as a concussion. At the scene, get the contact information from the other driver and additional witnesses. It’s also helpful to have a police officer make a report, as this documentation may be useful if or when you decide to pursue an auto accident claim. Working with an experienced auto accident attorney can give you the reassurance and confidence you need to pursue and obtain the compensation you need in order to make a full recovery.


To learn more about what steps to take following an auto accident in the Temecula or Murrieta area, call the experienced attorneys at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation at (951) 489-3320 today to schedule an appointment.

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