From a young age, most of us are told that we need to take responsibility for our actions. While this is generally a good character trait to have, you shouldn’t let it prevent you from holding others accountable with their actions cause you harm. It is a common misconception that, if you somehow contributed to an injury you suffered at the hands of someone else, that you cannot legally hold them accountable. You can hold them accountable, and you deserve compensation for your injuries.
How Are Damages Allocated Under the Law When Multiple Parties Are at Fault?
The law recognizes several different systems for allocating fault.
- Comparative negligence system: in this system, a defendant is held responsible for damages to the extent that they are at fault for them. There are two kinds of comparative fault: pure and modified. Under both, the percentage responsibility of every plaintiff and defendant is calculated. In a pure system, a plaintiff recovers from each defendant the percentage those defendants are liable. In a modified system, the plaintiff only recovers from defendants if the plaintiff’s own fault is less than 50 percent. For example: if two people cause your injury, but a court finds you are 60 percent at fault and they are each 20 percent at fault, in a pure system you recover 20 percent of the damages from each defendant, while in a modified system you recover nothing.
- Contributory negligence system: in this system, if an injured party is responsible in any way for their injury they are barred from recovering. The one exception to this rule is the Last Clear Chance Rule, which says that if the injuring party had the last clear chance to avoid an injury, the injured party can recover.
- Joint and several liability: this is a rule which allows injured parties to recover the entire amount of damages owed to them from any injuring party if there are multiple parties, regardless of what percentage of fault that party is actually responsible for.
What System Does California Have?
California uses the pure comparative negligence system. This means that, even if you are found to have contributed to your own injury in some way, you can still hold others accountable. For example, if you were in a car accident, you may still recover if you were texting or talking on a phone, applying makeup, eating, or tired at the time. California also uses a modified form of joint and several liability, but allows joint and several liability for cases involving damages that can be calculated specifically, like medical costs, loss of earnings, and cost of repair. So, you can recover the costs you are owed from any plaintiff.
What Should You Do if You Have Been Injured?
If you’re injured due to the fault of another person, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering. The fact that you may have contributed in some way to the injury does not mean that you surrender your rights to be compensated for the harm others caused you. The attorneys at J&Y Law have extensive experience with personal injury cases and are ready to get you the most compensation possible. Contact J&Y Law today to learn more.