Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries or wrongful death, and significant damages. For that reason, the insurance company representing the at-fault driver in a motorcycle accident case will almost always claim there was comparative negligence, and that the motorcyclist was at least partially to blame for his or her own injuries or death.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal theory used in personal injury cases. The theory is that sometimes all parties involved in an accident contributed in some way to the accident. Comparative negligence attempts to assign the appropriate percentage of the blame to each party. In California, the jury assigns a percentage of the fault to plaintiff and to the defendant. Whatever compensation is awarded to the plaintiff (the injured party) is then reduced by the percentage of the blame the jury assigned to him or her.
In a motorcycle accident where the defendant is assigned 100% blame and the plaintiff is assigned 0% blame for causing the accident, the plaintiff will receive 100% of the damages as compensation for injuries caused by the defendant. If; however, the jury assigns 60% blame for the accident to the defendant and 40% blame to the plaintiff, the plaintiff will only collect 60% of the damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the accident. By way of example, if the damages suffered by the plaintiff was $100,000, and the jury assigned the plaintiff 40% blame for the accident, the defendant would only need to pay the plaintiff $60,000 for damages.
Unlike some other states, California has adopted what some people refer to as a “pure” comparative negligence standard. This means that even if the plaintiff is deemed by the jury to be 99% to blame for the accident, he or she is entitled to recover 1% of his or her damages from the defendant.
Comparative Negligence Can Hurt a Motorcycle Accident Case
Comparative negligence can be particularly difficult in a motorcycle accident case because unfortunately, many individuals believe a negative stereotype of motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are painted as people who love to take risks, weave in-and-out of traffic and speed. Insurance companies use these negative misconceptions to try and place blame, at least partially, on the motorcyclist.
To protect against this, motorcyclists, or their families, should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling motorcycle accident cases.
Call an Experienced Long Beach Motorcycle Accident Attorney for More Information
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