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What does contributory negligence mean in a California personal injury claim?

Contributory negligence is a system by which a person can be found to be partly at fault for the incident that caused the personal injury they suffered. If you are bringing a personal injury claim in California, you have probably already consulted a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for assistance. Their advice and support will certainly be useful if the defendant claims that you are at least partially to blame for the personal injury you have sustained.

In this article, we are going to examine the concept of contributory negligence, and how it can affect the amount of money you receive, if your personal injury claim is successful. Let's start by taking a look at what personal injury is.

What constitutes personal injury, for the purposes of making a claim?

There is a long list of injuries which can be included in a personal injury claim. Here is just a selection of them:

  • Loss of a limb.
  • Loss of one of the senses (temporary or permanent).
  • Scars.
  • Mental issues.

The most common cause of personal injury is a road accident. You may also wish to file a claim following a medical mistake or an accident on a construction site. There are many situations and locations where a claim for personal injury can arise.

When is contributory negligence applicable?

The fact is that contributory negligence is often claimed by the defendant, to try and avoid paying out for the personal injury of the plaintiff. Contributory negligence means that the plaintiff was in some way responsible for the personal injury they suffered. On many occasions there is no basis for claiming that there is contributory negligence. It can be just a way to try and get away with making a lower payment. However, there are plenty of times when the plaintiff is in some way at fault for the incident that causes the injury.

In the past, this would have meant that the plaintiff was not entitled to anything; it was an all or nothing situation. This is no longer the case. The situation changed during the case of Li vs Yellow Cab, which took place in 1974. It was at this point that the concept of contributory negligence came to mean the extent to which the plaintiff was at fault. From this point forward, plaintiffs in California could still receive damages, but at a reduced rate. The amount of damages awarded is reduced by the amount that the plaintiff is found to be at fault. For example, if the award is for $20,000, and the plaintiff is found to be 40% at fault, the plaintiff receives $12,000.

Hopefully, you can now see how contributory negligence works in California. It's important to note that the situation varies from state to state, so you need to check for differences if the personal injury claim is made elsewhere.

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