California Negligence and Comparative Negligence Law Define What Negligence Is
If you are injured in an accident the only way that you can recover damages is if the other party was negligent.
Negligence as a legal term refers to whether or not an individual acted as a reasonable person would have under the same or similar circumstances. To be successful in an action for negligence, the injured party must show that the responsible party breached a duty of care giving rise to damages. Most all auto accidents are based on a theory of negligence. Therefore, if you are stopped at a stop sign and another individual rear-ends your vehicle, that individual breached the duty of care by not stopping. This “breach of duty” equals negligence. You would therefore have a cause of action or the right to recover damages from the negligent or responsible party.
California courts operate under a system known as “comparative negligence.” Comparative negligence is, in simple terms, liability apportioned by fault. Therefore, in the event of an accident where both parties bare some responsibility for the harm caused, liability will be divided based on a percentage of fault assigned to each party. If you are partially responsible for an accident, this does not mean you cannot recover. You may still be able to recover your damages which will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility assigned to your conduct. This concept is called “comparative negligence” where your negligence is compared against the other party’s negligence, resulting in an apportionment of fault.