What Is The Legal Doctrine Of ‘Pure Comparative Negligence’?

Car accidents can be incredibly complex, especially if both parties made mistakes. For example, you may have been struck by a driver who ran a red light, but you also may have been speeding at the time. Does that mean that you cannot pursue financial compensation from the other driver through a personal injury claim? Not necessarily.

Defining “pure comparative negligence”

In the past, if the plaintiff to a personal injury claim was partly at fault, they could not recover damages. However, most states, including California, have since moved away from this harsh measure and now follow laws of comparative negligence when it comes to compensation in a negligence claim. California follows the doctrine of “pure comparative negligence.”

What does this mean? It means that in a lawsuit, the damages awarded to the plaintiff will be reduced by the percentage the plaintiff contributed to the injury. This is true even if the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault.

For example, a plaintiff may have been awarded $100,000 in a negligence claim. However, the judge determined that the plaintiff was 20% at fault. Thus, the damages awarded in this scenario would be reduced to $80,000.

Guidance when claims are anything but straightforward

Ultimately, determining fault and damages in a personal injury claim following a car crash is not always straightforward. There are many legal issues to consider when pursuing a negligence claim. This post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Those who want to learn more about pure comparative negligence in California may want to contact a personal injury attorney for assistance.