The Comparative Fault system has three types that a state can fall into. Missouri and California are two states that both follow the Pure Comparative Fault Rule. This is a rule that provides the plaintiff some recovery even if they are found to be negligent in the accident. The recovery received, however, is reduced by the percentage of fault in which the plaintiff is found to be at. For example, if two parties were to get into a car accident, the judge would have to go over the case and assign fault to each party, or to only one party. The person to bring the lawsuit is the plaintiff, and they must prove that the other party, the defendant, was the one who was negligent.
The defendant, however, can argue that the plaintiff was negligent in the accident as well. If the judge finds that both parties were negligent in the accident, then they are to follow the Comparative Negligence Rule and distribute a percentage of the fault to each party. This is why the Comparative Fault rule came about, and in both Missouri and California they hear both sides, and the plaintiff and defendant have a chance to receive recovery for damages.
As an example of this, if you aren’t wearing a seat belt during a car accident and you are rear-ended by a drunk driver, you may still be able to collect compensation, but of course your injuries may be worse from not wearing a seatbelt. As you can see, these can be complex matters.
If the plaintiff is found to be negligent in the case as well as the defendant, then the plaintiff with have its recovery reduced in Missouri. In California, it is stated that the plaintiff’s negligence will offset the defendant’s liability. Both of these states have the law so that the plaintiff should be able to recover the percentage of their damages that was caused by the negligent party. However, in 33 states, this is not the case. If the plaintiff is found to be the most negligent, they risk losing all of the recovery of damages. There are only thirteen states that allow the plaintiff to receive damages even if they are the most at fault in the accident.
This article was contributed by Los Angeles auto accident expert attorney Hussein Chahine. He is a member of the Multi Million Advocates Group and is respected as one of the top trial lawyers in all of Southern California.