A car accident is just that – an accident – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessarily one particular party’s fault.
If you or someone you care about has been involved in a serious accident, you might be wondering if you are entitled to compensation for your suffering. But how do you determine who was at fault?
There are actually two different ways you can go above proving who was at fault when it comes to car accidents. If you aren’t sure which direction is the best for you and your case, a Thousand Oaks car accident attorney can provide the guidance you need.
You can either show that the other driver involved was negligent under common law, or you can prove statutory negligence which would mean that the other driver violated the California Vehicle Code or another relevant law.
There are a few things that are needed in order to establish negligence under the rules of common law. To prove common law negligence, you will need to provide evidence such as witness statements and police reports.
Duty of Care
You must be able to prove that the other driver involved had a duty to operate their vehicle with reasonable care. In general, all drivers have this duty – the duty to obey traffic laws, avoid injuring others, be aware of road conditions, and drive both safely and responsibly.
Breach of Duty
For the other driver to be at fault, they must have failed to operate their vehicle with sufficient care. To determine this, the driver’s conduct will be judged based on that of a “reasonable person.”
For example, it would be asked, “What would a reasonable person do in this situation?” If the other driver failed to operate their vehicle in the way that a reasonable person would in their shoes, this is a breach of duty.
Causation & Damage
The breach of duty, as described above, must be the direct cause of the accident in question. The accident must have also caused you either monetary loss or mental or physical injuries.
Statutory negligence, on the other hand, is considered somewhat easier to establish. To prove statutory negligence, you must show that the other driver involved violated the California Vehicle Code or another statute.
If the other driver was in violation of the California Vehicle Code, the police report from the accident would likely note it. If this is the case, the other driver will automatically be presumed negligent, and no additional evidence will be needed to assign fault.
When this occurs, it then becomes the other driver’s responsibility to prove their own innocence and that they were not negligent.
What if both Drivers are at Fault in a Car Accident?
When both parties involved are at fault, because at the end of the day, accidents are accidents, it is called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is considered a partial defense in tort cases and occurs when a victim is interested in suing someone who harmed them.
Comparative negligence means that under California law, all drivers that are involved in an accident are at fault to an extent. The degrees to which each party might be found to be at fault may vary – in fact, all of the drivers may have different degrees of responsibility for what happened.
If one or more of the parties involved is injured but also negligent themselves, their compensation may be significantly reduced accordingly. Similarly, if you were injured but not as at fault as the other parties involved, you will receive more compensation appropriately.