man at the scene of a car accident
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By Pejman Javaheri
Founding Partner

When you’ve been in an accident, figuring out who’s at fault can feel like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing. In many states, it’s not always black and white. 

Imagine this—you’re cruising down the streets of Los Angeles when a driver speeds through a red light and collides with you. Yet, you were texting at the moment of impact. Who’s at fault here? 

Enter the realm of comparative negligence laws, a concept that might seem a bit mind-boggling but is made much clearer with the guidance of a seasoned Los Angeles personal injury attorney.

Understanding the Basic Principles

California law follows the “pure comparative negligence” rule. The legal jargon might sound intimidating, but it boils down to this: even if you’re partly to blame for the accident, you still can pursue damages. However, any compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Picture it this way—if you were in a dance, it’s about how many steps you missed compared to your partner.

Calculating Damages: Who Gets What?

So, how’s your share determined? The court or insurance adjusters assign each party a percentage of fault based on the evidence and circumstances. The math isn’t too hard if you were found to be 20% at fault and the total damages awarded were $100,000. Your cut of the pie would be reduced to $80,000. A lesser slice, but a slice nonetheless.

The Clock is Ticking: The Statute of Limitations

Just like Cinderella rushing from the ball as the clock strikes midnight, there’s a time limit on filing a personal injury claim in California. Generally, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. But don’t assume this timeframe is set in stone. Various circumstances might extend or shorten this deadline, which is why having a competent personal injury attorney in your corner is invaluable.

Insurance Impact: It’s Not Just About Court 

Don’t forget that comparative negligence doesn’t just play out in court. It can also affect your insurance claims. Insurance companies whip out their calculators and start crunching numbers too, assessing the percentage of fault to determine what they need to cover. Even your insurance premium may take a hit if you’re found “principally at fault” (generally over 51% at fault). 

Reach Out for Legal Advice

Navigating through comparative negligence laws can seem like trying to learn a new language. However, you don’t have to do it alone. The assistance of a proficient personal injury attorney—someone fluent in this legal language—can be a game-changer.

Tackling this process might seem challenging, but remember—you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re ready to explore your options and need expert guidance, we’re here to help. Reach out today for a free consultation. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys are prepared to advocate for your rights and work tirelessly to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

About the Author
P.J. Javaheri is an experienced personal injury attorney and a founding partner of Mi Abogado. Mr. Javaheri received his Juris Degree from the University of California, Hastings in 2005. Mr. Javaheri is dedicated to serving clients in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. His practice focuses on the area of personal injury law, particularly in representing people who have been injured in car, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents, the practice also specializes in premises liability matters. In recognition of his skills and dedication to his vocation, Javaheri has been named on the California Super Lawyers Rising Stars list in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Mr. Javaheri is also active in the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles.  In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Mr. Javaheri was honored with appointments to the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities (LATLC) Honorary Board of Directors at its highest level; the Diamond Level. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Mr. Javaheri at 310.694.3084 or by emailing