Negligence and Fault for Car Accidents

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Practice Areas: Auto Accident, Trucking Accident, Workers Compensation

If you are involved in a car accident in California, you might find that you suddenly have a lot of expenses related to the incident. You may not have to pay for the cost of a crash on your own. Negligence and fault determines who is responsible for covering the cost of a wreck.

Negligence
A careless action or inaction that leads to a crash and causes injuries could make someone negligent and responsible for the harm victims suffer. Showing that a driver was negligent involves four components.

Duty: On the road, drivers owe others a basic standard of care. This means that drivers are expected to act safely and use a reasonable level of caution when operating a vehicle. Examples of unreasonable behavior include texting and driving or speeding.

Breach: A breach happens when failing to act the way one's duty requires. If a driver does something that a responsible driver would not do, this person could be negligent if a wreck occurs. For example, the average motorist knows not to text and drive because this behavior could injure someone.

Causation: Negligence must be what caused a victim's injuries. A driver acting illegally could face criminal charges but not civil charges if this driver's actions did not harm anyone or cause property damage.

Damages: The compensation one receives is based on the damages a driver caused. Damages could include medical expenses, time off from work and even emotional pain and suffering.

Fault
Recklessness could also make one at fault for a crash. This happens when one disregards someone's safety and is similar to negligence. With recklessness, one knows or should know that his or her actions are risky and could hurt someone. Drunk driving or drag racing are two types of reckless behavior.

Negligence and recklessness are the most common types of fault involved in car accidents. To show that a driver is at fault, police reports, witness statements and state laws may be used. In most instances, rear-end collisions are the fault of the driver who strikes the other while left turn collisions are the fault of the driver taking the left turn.

Comparative Negligence
Pause before celebrating if it seems like another driver is responsible for an accident. Even if another motorist was texting and driving, you could still share fault if you were also distracted or not wearing a seat belt. The good news is that in California you could receive compensation for your injuries if the other driver shares any responsibility. If an injured party is 10 percent at fault for an accident, 10 percent of the total damages awarded are deducted to reflect this person's role.
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