Car accidents in California or anywhere can be messy and uncertain. The situation becomes more confusing when you are at fault for the accident. Being at fault for an accident carries with it some ramifications. However, one can sue in California even if the accident was their fault.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit for an accident that you are responsible for will, in most instances, result in a low amount of compensation compared to the cases in which you are not liable. Because there are several expenses surrounding the serious injuries that emanate from an auto accident, you must understand the process of determining fault and the compensation you can receive following an accident. Consulting with a car accident lawyer is essential in this process, as they can provide expert guidance on the nuances of fault determination and help maximize the potential compensation.
Pure Comparative negligence state
California is a pure comparative negligence state. Under this system, the liability of a person who is a victim of a personal injury claim such as a car accident shall be proportional to the amount of fault for the accident that they possess. The higher the responsibility for the accident, the lower the compensation they should receive.
When a person is 90% responsible for the accident, they shall be within their rights to file a lawsuit and seek compensation that factors in their contributory negligence. In such instances, if the total settlement for the personal injury lawsuit is $100,000, you shall only receive $10,000, representing the other party’s responsibility for the accident.
Contribution to a car accident
It should be noted that most accidents do not happen because of the negligence of a single party. There are many instances in which so many parties are at fault for the accident. In the cases in which so many parties are responsible for the accident, their contribution to the occurrence of the accident shall be considered.
Proving fault for a car accident
To succeed in a negligence claim, one must provide evidence to support their case. The evidence must be woven together in a manner that is likely to prove that the other driver or party was responsible for the accident. With evidence, it shall be more accessible to determine the liability issue. Therefore, it is incredibly vital that you collect evidence to succeed in your personal injury lawsuit.
Factors that are likely to affect the chances of your personal injury lawsuit succeeding if you are partially at fault
The extent of your involvement in the accident
If you are 100% responsible for the accident, likely, you may not get compensated for the same, notwithstanding the extent of the injuries you suffered. It follows that you will need to carefully analyze the time of your responsibility for the accident before you start filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The laws of California stipulate that you must not sue for personal injury after three years have elapsed since the accident. If you file a personal injury lawsuit after this period, the chances of your claim succeeding will be severely impaired. You must file your suit within the stipulated time to get compensated.
The defenses that the at-fault driver or the at-fault driver’s insurance company shall put in place
If the other party has a sufficient level of defense for the accident, it shall be difficult for you to receive compensation for the accident. So, please make sure that you can adequately address any defense that the other side will be able to put in place for the accident.
Timelines for filing personal injury lawsuits in California
It is essential to note that California’s laws provide timelines for filing personal injury lawsuits even if you were at fault for the accident. California’s regulations provide that you must institute your personal injury lawsuit within two years from when it happened. Filkking a case beyond these two years will result in your suit being unsuccessful. It follows from this that you’ll need to make sure that you count the timelines to ensure that they do not affect your pursuit of compensation.
However, it should be noted that you can pursue compensation outside the statutorily provided timelines only if:
- Discovery rule exemption- if you did not know that the other party injured you or were unaware that the defendant’s actions resulted in your injuries;
- If the defendant left California after the incident,
- When the injured party is a minor,
- When the injured party is of unsound mind and
- If the injured party is disabled.
However, notwithstanding the above exemptions, which must be proven, you must file your personal injury lawsuit within two years from when the incident you were partially responsible for resulted in your injury.
Should I hire a lawyer in a car accident lawsuit?
You must seek an experienced car accident attorney, even when you were at fault for the accident. Having a lawyer has several benefits because the personal injury lawyer will:
Assist you in collecting evidence- the process of collecting and putting together evidence usually is tedious and complicated. As you will require any available proof to prove your case, you must get an experienced personal injury attorney.
Negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company- there are several instances in which an insurance company would want to pressure you into accepting some money as final compensation for the accident. These discussions would result in so many back and forths. Because of this, you must engage the services of a lawyer.
Representing you in court- the process of representing yourself in court can be frustrating because of the lack of experience and the many formalities of court. It follows from this that to save yourself from the inconveniences of court appearances; you must ensure that you hire a personal injury lawyer
Dealing with documentation- Composing a personal injury lawsuit is complicated and time-consuming. Moreover, the documentation from the at-fault party may be massive. Going through the vast documents and responding to them conclusively is likely to distress someone more in instances in which one is yet to recover from the injuries that were sustained in the accident.
It follows from the above that it would be best to hire a car accident attorney if you would like to get compensation for your car accident claim. The lawyers are more knowledgeable and have the experience and the necessary training that are crucial when pursuing compensation. The compensation you will likely receive includes medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other compensation that you can directly relate to the accident.
If you have suffered an injury because of an accident in which you were at fault, please seek the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer at Big Ben Lawyers to get the compensation you deserve.