Negligence is defined as an act, or failure to act when you owe a duty to someone else. To be found negligent under California law, it must be shown that the defendant had a duty to act or to refrain from acting and that the defendant violated or “breached” this duty. It must also be shown that this breach of duty was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and that the plaintiff suffered actual damages. If someone is found to be negligent, and that negligence caused someone else to sustain injury or other losses, they can be held liable to compensate that person.
Under the broad umbrella of negligence, there are different types of negligence. Different types of negligence include:
- Comparative negligence: In comparative negligence cases, both the party bringing the personal injury claim, the “plaintiff,” played a part in causing the injuries to himself or herself. Comparative negligence can lead to different results depending on the approach. Under pure comparative negligence, the jury determines a damage award to the plaintiff, but it is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. With modified comparative negligence, the jury will award the plaintiff a percentage of his or her damages if and only if the plaintiff is found to be less than 50 percent at fault. If it is determined that the plaintiff is 50 percent or more at fault, he or she will not receive anything.
- Contributory negligence: Under contributory negligence, if the plaintiff had any part in causing his or her own injuries, he or she will not be able to collect any damages. This negligence standard is not commonly used. Many states that may have used this in the past are moving towards different approaches.
- Gross negligence: Gross negligence goes beyond ordinary negligence. It is not just a lack of due care, but an action or inaction that demonstrated a complete absence of concern for the safety and well being of others. In some cases, when gross negligence is proven, the plaintiff will be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant for, particularly egregious behavior.
- Vicarious liability: With this type of negligence, the defendant is found negligent through the actions of another. This is often seen in dog bite cases or where a minor child might have caused an accident. The defendant is held responsible for what the injuries caused by the minor or the animal. This is mainly because the dog or the child cannot be legally held responsible for the damages themselves.
For the purpose of damage awards, California follows a pure comparative negligence approach. A person who played a part in causing an accident that led to his or her own injury may still recover damages, but the damage award will be reduced by the percentage of fault he or she is assigned.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, you have a legal right to seek compensation for your losses from that person. We are here to help you enforce that legal right. Contact us today.