If you have been injured as a result of an accident or incident where you were either partially or totally at fault, this may severely limit, or even completely prevent, you from being able to bring a successful personal injury claim. The unlucky event or tragedy that caused your injuries or loss does not automatically entitle you or your family to bring a personal injury claim. To bring a successful claim, your personal injury lawyer must usually be able to show that somebody else caused your injuries. That is, the accident or incident that caused your injuries must have been either partially or totally the fault of somebody other than yourself.
Fault is the starting point of analysis of the likelihood of success of a personal injury claim. Without assessing fault from the outset of representation, your injury attorney will not be able to give you a realistic expectation of what to expect in your case under California law. Without establishing fault, your attorney will not be able to prove your case. Just how, and to what extent, fault must be established and proven in a particular case depends on the type of accident that caused your injuries or loss.
If you were injured or lost a loved one as the result of someone else’s carelessness or failure to act like a reasonable and prudent person, your attorney will bring a claim of negligence against the person who injured you.
If you were partially at fault for the accident, but you were not totally at fault, you can still bring a personal injury claim. Under the rule of comparative fault, which is applied as pure comparative fault under California law, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you.
If you were injured as the result of a rear-end collision by another vehicle, then absent unusual circumstances, fault in the accident will be assigned 100% to the driver who hit you from behind. There are circumstances, however, where you can be rear-ended and still be the driver who is mostly or totally at fault.
In some cases, you can bring a claim without even establishing or proving fault. Under the rule of strict liability, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can be held strictly liable for your injuries or loss, meaning that you don’t even have to prove they were at fault.
If more than one person was at fault in causing your injuries or loss, you can bring a claim against each of them and recover financial damages from each of them. However, you cannot obtain a double recovery.
Under the rule of assumption of risk, if you engaged in an activity with full knowledge of the risks involved and you were injured, you may be deemed to have assumed the risk of your injuries and be barred from suing to recovery financial damages for your injuries.