California personal injury attorneys

Comparative Negligence

After proving a prima facie case of negligence (duty, breach, causation, and damages), plaintiff must overcome any obstacles to recovery raised by defendant.

One of the most common obstacles is comparative negligence, which reduces plaintiffs monetary recovery if defendant can prove plaintiff was also negligent to some degree.

Usually a defendant will contend a plaintiff's own negligence in a specified percentage led to her injury, and the judge or jury will reduce the total damages recovery by that same percentage

Examples of Comparative Negligence

Dangerous Dan, the driver of one automobile, is driving way too fast and Negligent Nellie, the driver of a car coming from the other direction, begins a left hand turn without looking to ensure it is safe to do so. The two car crash and Nellie is hurt. Nellie's monetary recovery will most likely be reduced by whatever a jury determines is the percentage of her fault in relation to causing the accident.

In contrast to comparative negligence which is the law in California, some states use the very old (and unfair) doctrine of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence which prohibits any recovery at all if the claimant contributed to the cause of the accident in any way.

Other states use a form of Modified Contributory Negligence in which the claimant's recovery is barred only if he or she is more than 51% at fault for causing the injury.

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