California is what is called a pure comparative negligence state. What this means is that in every accident, the jury will be asked to determine what percentage of fault to assign to each driver. This can range for 100% and 0% in cases of clear liability, to a true 50-50 split if the jury believes each party was equally at fault. While the rules for different kinds of damages are complicated, particularly in cases where there is more than one person who caused an accident, the general principle is that the more at fault you are for your accident, the lower your recovery will be.
As a practical matter, this means that accident reconstructionists are needed in almost all cases with major damages to determine the proportion of fault assignable to each driver.
You should also not be surprised when the other side tries to find ways to assign some of the blame for the accident for you. It is not personal, but is smart business as insurance companies try to save themselves money. You should be aware that this is information that insurance companies are looking for when they take initial statements. This is why it is important not to give a statement if you are not thinking clearly after an accident. Memory and recall of events can be affected by injuries and your statement will usually be recorded and used later in the casce.
DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.
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