Filing a negligence claim after a car accident

Frank S. Clowney III

In California, drivers who cause car accident are liable for accident-related injuries and damages. Injured motorists, passengers and pedestrians may recover both economic and non-economic damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company by filing a personal injury claim. These damages may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium and companionship

Establishing fault in a motor vehicle accident

As the injured party, you, along with your attorney, must collect enough evidence to establish that another party is at fault for the accident to recover damages from their insurer.

In most cases, you will need to show that the at-fault party’s negligence contributed to your accident and the injuries and damages you suffered. Proving negligence requires you to show that the at-fault party breached a duty owed to you and that the breach directly and proximately caused the collision and your damages.

Some of the evidence used to prove fault may include:

  • Police reports detailing the accident
  • Photos and videos of the accident and/or scene of the accident
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Invoices for property repairs
  • Medical reports and expert testimony

Many accidents are caused by the negligence of more than one party. If your own negligence contributed to your own injuries, you can still recover damages in California. As a pure comparative negligence state, California allows accident victims to recover damages from another party even if they are partially or mostly at-fault for the accident. However, the damages they recover will be reduced depending on the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if you are found 60 percent liable for an accident, you can only recover $40,000 of the $100,000 awarded to you.

Establishing fault is critical to recovering compensation for your accident-related injuries. A personal injury attorney can assist you with every step of the legal process.