Burlingame, CA Personal Injury Blog

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Can an accident be more than one person's fault?

 Injury Lawyers Helping San Francisco Bay and Burlingame Area Accident Victims

Often an incident occurs solely because of the negligence of an easily identifiable person or entity.  The driver who runs a red light, the homeowner who fails to remedy a dangerous condition on their property, or the manufacturer of a defective product are a few common examples.  In other circumstances there are multiple causes of an incident and there are multiple people who are at fault.

For example, at an intersection collision what if one driver had the right of way but was speeding.  The other driver entered without the right of way but was not speeding.  Who is at fault?  Both drivers were negligent; one for improperly entering the intersection and the other for speeding.  Both acts of negligence have what is referred to as "but for" causation.  The collision would not have occurred but for each negligent act.  Both acts of negligence have legal causation as they were substantial factors in bringing about the collision such that legal liability should attach.  The answer therefore is both drivers are at fault. 

In California, fault is apportioned on a percentage basis among all negligent actors.  So fault for the aforementioned intersection collision could be 50/50.  Or it could be 60/40.  Or it could be any two numbers which add up to 100%.  This is ultimately the quantification of an opinion with no definitive right or wrong answer.  It is up to the jury or judge.

The rules for how the decision affects the plaintiff's recovery are very complex.  One certain effect is that if the plaintiff is one of the negligent actors responsible for the incident which produced their injury then the plaintiff's recovery will be reduced by the percentage of their own fault.  Whether a claim in such circumstances is worth pursuing requires careful and experienced judgment from an injury attorney.  If you have a question about apportionment of fault or causation please feel free to contact Shapiro Legal Group for a free consultation.


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