What Is the 51% Comparative Fault Rule in California?

If you have been injured in an accident and found to be partially at-fault, you may still be able to file a claim. In California, the 51% comparative fault rule allows a person who is responsible for 50% or less of an accident to file a personal injury claim.

The most common types of personal injury claims involving comparative fault include:

  • slip and fall accidents;
  • product liability;
  • premises liability;
  • medical malpractice;
  • car accidents; and
  • bicycle accidents.

California’s Comparative Fault Law

California’s comparative (or negligence) law divides damages between parties involved in an accident based on the percentage of fault each played in the accident. The party seeking compensation for damages will receive a settlement reduced by the percentage they were found to be at fault.

A jury will decide the amount of responsibility of each party based on the following factors:

  • the defendant must prove the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to their injury, and they must illustrate that the plaintiff was negligent and this negligence was a factor in causing the injury;
  • if the defendant is successful in proving the above, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by jury determination of the plaintiff’s responsibility;
  • when dividing fault between the plaintiff and the defendant, the percentages must total 100%;
  • the jury must then make a finding of the plaintiff’s damages; and
  • grant the plaintiff compensation that reflects monetary damages minus their percentage of fault.

Who Pays Damages If Two Parties Are Responsible?

If a plaintiff is injured by 2 (or more) defendants, they can recover compensation from all defendants, which is called joint and several liability.

Joint and several liability applies to:

  • medical expenses;
  • property damage;
  • loss of income; and
  • loss of earning capacity.

The percentage of non-economic damages (like pain and suffering) could still be collected from each defendant.

Eliot Reiner, APLC Is Here for You

If you have recently been a victim of an accident that resulted in injury, our personal injury attorney can help you. Even if you are partially at fault for the accident, we can work with the court to attempt to gain partial or full compensation.

Call our firm today at (916) 778-3228 or contact us online.

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