Liability and negligence go hand-in-hand for personal injury cases. You can’t hold another party liable for the losses you’ve incurred without proving that they were negligent in their actions.
Understanding how these terms relate to one another can help you determine if you have a valid personal injury claim.
What Is the Liability Law in California?
While there are many types of personal injury cases — all of which require negligence — car accidents can help illustrate liability best. California’s fault-based insurance system means that the person whose negligence caused the crash will be held liable for damages.
However, that’s not the only thing to understand when it comes to liability in California personal injury cases. It’s also a state that operates under pure comparative negligence. Let’s consider a car accident again. Perhaps another driver ran a red light and hit your vehicle. If you were speeding through that intersection at the time, you may be assigned a portion of the blame.
The percentage of fault that you are assigned will reduce the amount of compensation that you are awarded. Some states require that you be 50% or less at fault to recover compensation. California allows you to be up to 99% at fault and still recover damages.
How Is Liability Determined for a Personal Injury Case?
The determining factor for liability is to prove negligence, which requires evidence. As the injured party, you will need to show that the other party was negligent in their duty of care owed to you, that they breached this duty and caused your injuries, and that those injuries caused your financial losses.
Depending on the type of personal injury case, your evidence could be in the form of photos or videos, a reconstruction of the accident scene, police reports, witnesses, expert testimony, and medical records of your treatments. It’s the most critical part of your claim. Without it, your case may not be strong enough to recover damages for your losses.
Who Determines Liability in a Personal Injury Case?
According to Rosenstock & Azran, who gets to make this determination for liability will depend on whether your case settles or goes to trial. In most cases, a settlement is likely. In this scenario, it will be the insurance company for the at-fault party that makes the determination. The insurer will review the evidence that you have submitted, and if they find their policyholder isn’t liable, they will deny your claim. Conversely, if they agree that the evidence shows their policyholder was negligent, they will offer a settlement. When cases are more complicated, they can go to trial. At that point, a jury will determine liability.
If you have serious injuries or a complicated legal matter, you should speak with a personal injury attorney.