Yes, you may recover compensation for your injuries even if you contributed to a pedestrian accident in California.
How Do Pedestrians Contribute To Accidents In California?
More often than you might think, pedestrians across California contribute to their own injuries and actually are part of the reason why accidents take place. You might find that even you contributed to such an incident while walking around on the streets, sidewalks, bike paths, or other area of the state. Perhaps you entered the roadway without a walk sign or started to cross the street between two parked cars. Perhaps you crossed into a bike path and cut off a bicyclist because you had your headphones on and didn’t hear his calls to move or perhaps you darted out into the street after leaving a restaurant late at night. While looking back on these situations, they may not have been good decisions, but you still may make a claim for your injuries against the responsible parties. You can still recover because the point of the legal system is for people to be compensated for their injuries to the extent that others were responsible for them.
What Is The Law On Comparative Fault In California Pedestrian Accidents?
California applies comparative fault to ‘tort’ cases such as pedestrian accidents. What is comparative fault? Comparative fault is the idea that plaintiff’s own recovery should be reduced by the amount that the plaintiff contributed to the incident. It is one of the most common defenses that defendants in California pedestrian accidents use. Another response they commonly give is that the damages the plaintiff is seeking are excessive. Anyways, under a comparative fault system, the pedestrian’s percentage of apportioned fault is figured into a recovery that they are entitled to. Under comparative fault law of California, the pedestrian must be less than 50% at fault in order to recover. If a pedestrian is deemed to be more than 50% responsible for causing an incident, they are barred from any recovery.
Note, this is different than the traditional rule on comparative fault. The traditional on comparative fault is that if the plaintiff contributed to the incident in any way, then he or she cannot pursue a claim for relief and damages. That theory is known as pure contributory negligence. The California Supreme Court in Alvis v. Ribar abolished that theory and instituted the modified comparative fault theory described above where the plaintiff can still recover but their compensation is lowered by the amount that they contributed to the event. See 85 Ill. 2d 1 (1981). Thus, plaintiffs are not barred from pursuing damages if they had a part in the accident which caused their injuries.
How Does California Law Define Fault, Contributory Fault, And Recovery?
After the California Supreme Court adopted modified comparative fault, the state legislature codified these concepts into law:
How does California law define “fault:”
“Fault” means any act or omission that (i) is negligent, willful and wanton, or reckless, is a breach of an express or implied warranty, gives rise to strict liability in tort, or gives rise to liability under the provisions of any State statute, rule, or local ordinance and (ii) is a proximate cause of death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought.” 735 ILCS 5/2-1116(b)
How does California law define “contributory fault:”
“Contributory fault” means any fault on the part of the plaintiff (including but not limited to negligence, assumption of the risk, or willful and wanton misconduct) which is a proximate cause of the death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought.” 735 ILCS 5/2-1116(b)
How does California law define recovery when a plaintiff contributed to the pedestrian accident:
“In all actions on account of death, bodily injury or physical damage to property in which recovery is predicated upon fault, the contributory fault chargeable to the plaintiff shall be compared with the fault of all tortfeasors whose fault was a proximate cause of the death, injury, loss, or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall not be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought, but any economic or non-economic damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff.” 735 ILCS 5/2-1116(c)
How Do I Calculate My Recovery If I Contributed To The Pedestrian Accident?
In application, if a pedestrian is injured in an accident with a driver and has $100,000 in recoverable damages, but is determined to be 25% responsible for causing the incident, he could be able to recover $75,000. Of course, the facts won’t always be this easy. Figuring out your precise amount of damages and responsibility is a complex, fact-intensive process subject to extraordinary scrutiny and speculation. However, this is the process that you need to engage in to recover if you contributed to the California pedestrian accident.
Still Think You Might Not Be Able To Bring An California Pedestrian Accident Case? Call Us Today!
Jimmie Kang Law Firm steadfastly supports and represents injured pedestrians across California. We know how to get them the compensation they need even if they were partially to blame. Plus, we can work on contingency so that you don’t have to worry about paying for anything during the case. To hear how we can help, contact our offices. Someone from Jimmie Kang Law Firm is ready to start your claim today.
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For additional information see the following pages:
- Are There any California Laws to Protect Pedestrians in Crosswalks?
- I was Told That I was Partially at Fault for my Accident. Can I Still Pursue a Claim for my Injuries?
- Can I Pursue a Bicyclist That Hit me to Recover Compensation for my Injuries if I was Jogging on a Marked Bike Path?
- Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit if my Family Member was Killed in a Pedestrian Accident?
- Do California Drivers owe Pedestrians any Special Duties of Care Under California Law?
- California Pedestrian Accident FAQ’s