Does California Have a Pure Comparative Negligence Rule?


Not every accident has cut-and-dry liability that puts all the blame on one person. Sometimes, liability is split among the involved parties, whether that includes two or more people. When this happens, pursuing compensation can get complicated.

Thankfully, here in California, split liability is not as problematic as it could be due to the state’s pure comparative negligence rule. Under this liability rule, an injured party can sue another party involved in their accident as long as that defendant is at least 1% liable. Yes, under pure comparative negligence rules, you could sue if you were 99% liable for an accident.

However, the amount of compensation you can recover through a lawsuit will be reduced in equal percentage of your liability. If you were 99% liable for a car accident, then you would only be able to recover 1% (or 100% - 99%) of your damages.

Would You Ever Sue If You Were Mostly Liable?

It might seem strange, but there are times when you could have a valid personal injury claim despite your majority liability. This can happen if you were severely injured in an accident and the other party was not. In such a case, you could have significant damages and that might not have any.

For example, imagine that you were texting behind the wheel when a truck driver merged into your lane, causing a truck accident. You are found to be 60% liable for the accident, and the trucker is 40% liable. You suffer $100,000 worth of damages, but the truck is barely damaged, resulting in only $1,000 worth of vehicle repairs. In this situation, you could feasibly sue for up to $40,000, whereas the trucking company could only hold you accountable for up to $6,000.

If you have questions about how liability will be split in your personal injury case, you can call (818) 946-0608 and connect with the Law Offices of Wax & Wax in Glendale and Santa Clarita. Free consultations are available to inquiring clients.