What Is Negligence?

Vehicle flipped on the side of the road

A Guide to California Law

Most personal injury cases, including auto accident cases, are centered on the concept of negligence. Those who are injured in California are entitled to recover damages for their injuries if their injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else. What, exactly, is negligence, and how is the concept dealt with by California law?

The Definition of Negligence In California

California juries are given very specific instructions as to the definition of negligence:

“Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others.”

Actions one can take can be negligent, but negligence can also take the form of failing to act. Juries in California are asked to consider what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.

So, if you do something a reasonably careful person wouldn’t do in the same situation, you’ve acted negligently. An example would be driving at a much higher speed than the speed limit. If you fail to do something a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation, you’ve also acted negligently. An example would be a company knowing a product it makes and sells is dangerous, but failing to warn the public that the product is dangerous.

How Are Negligence Claims Established In California?

Plaintiffs must prove the following to successfully establish a negligence claim in California:

  • A defendant was negligent;
  • The plaintiff was harmed;
  • The negligence of the defendant substantially caused the harm to the plaintiff.

Comparative Negligence

California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that those who are partially at fault for the circumstances leading to their injuries can still recover damages for their injuries from another party who was also partially at fault for their injuries.

The damages a plaintiff can recover for their injuries in California are reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault for the injuries. So, if you’re injured in an accident which a court finds was 30 percent your fault, the damages you recover for your injuries will be reduced by 30 percent. You will recover 70 percent of the damages for your injuries.

What If I Was Injured Due To Someone Else’s Negligence In California?

You are entitled to recover damages for your injuries from any party whose negligence causes your injuries in California. You should contact an experienced personal injury law firm like Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence. As experienced personal injury lawyers, can help you recover the most money possible for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.


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