Many auto accidents in California occur due to faulty driving decisions made by multiple drivers. Even a two-car collision can be the fault of each driver to some degree. The primary issue is what degree that may be, also known in the legal industry as comparative negligence. When auto accident cases go to court, the court issues a formal ruling on which driver was most at fault with that evaluation presented in a percentage. “Both to blame” clauses generally apply in shipping industry injuries, but the same principle applies in California auto accidents as well.
Determining comparative fault
While comparative fault is ultimately a jury determination, many cases are settled well before going to court unless there is a situation of gross negligence where one particular driver caused the accident in a malicious manner. Additionally, sympathetic juries can also assign punitive damages as well as typical compensatory financial awards in California auto accidents, and especially in total fault cases.
Applying comparative fault percentages
Each driver in an auto accident in California is assigned a comparative fault percentage when the crash scenario is evaluated. The percentage is based on their driving behavior with respect to accident causation, which is then used to discount their total claim value. Financial compensation is paid based on this final figure and the maximum insurance coverage of the opposing drivers based on their comparative negligence percentage.
The bottom line on shared fault and the “both to blame” principal in California is that the pure comparative negligence law allows that even a driver with a 99% comparative negligence percentage assignment can still be paid 1% of total damages, and only those with total fault are denied compensation for injuries or physical property loss. This possibility alone is enough to encourage all injured drivers in a California auto accident to retain legal counsel in adjudicating their cases.