Can both parties be at fault in an accident?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can both parties be at fault in an accident?

Both parties can be at fault in a California car accident. There are many situations where this may happen, as human error is the leading cause of crashes in the United States.  For example, a driver may cause an accident by running a red light while another driver was also at fault for turning left at the light too soon. In this situation, both parties are to blame for the accident.

In California, if two or more drivers are at fault for a car accident, they will be assigned a percentage of responsibility under a pure comparative fault system. This is calculated using data from the accident, which may include police reports, witness testimony, an accident reconstruction report, and expert witness opinions.  Any party who is at fault for the collision may be required to pay for the damages suffered in the accident. At the same time, their recovery for damages will be reduced by the percentage that they are at fault.

In the example above, the driver who ran the red light may be deemed to be 80% at fault for causing the accident, while the driver who turned left too soon may be 20% at fault.  If the first driver had $100,000 worth of damages and the second driver had $80,000 worth of damages, they would each receive a reduced amount of compensation.  The first driver may be able to receive $20,000 ($100,000 minus 80%, or $80,000), while the second driver may receive $64,000 ($80,000 minus 20%, or $16,000).  In this way, each party can still recover for their damages — but is still held accountable for the losses that they caused.

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