Car Accidents and Product Failure
Law Offices of David Drexler
Personal Injury Attorney, Accident Lawyer, Car Accident Lawyer
Who is responsible in car accidents if product failure is partially to blame?
California’s pure comparative negligence rule divvies up compensation according to the degree of fault shared by drivers, vehicle manufacturers and auto mechanics.
For car accidents, California maintains a pure form of the comparative negligence rule in all personal injury cases. This can be complicated when two drivers and a vehicle malfunction cause an accident. This is why if you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, a car accident lawyer should be contacted at the earliest possible time.
The following different scenarios help illustrate how this works:
A. Driver failed to keep the car in good repair, and that vehicle caused 100 percent of the damages - The operator of the vehicle bears full fault.
B. Other driver kept car in poor repair, but you drove negligently - The court would need to determine the degree of fault that each party bore.
C. Vehicle in poor operating condition, unbeknownst to its driver - Again, the court would need to determine whether the second vehicle’s driver’s negligence caused more or less of the damage, but negligence for the poorly-functioning vehicle would fall to its manufacturer or a car mechanic who improperly serviced the vehicle.
In a pure comparative negligence rule state, as is California, the responsibility for damages depends on the degree of fault attributed to each party. For example, if you drove through a green light at an intersection over the speed limit just as the other vehicle made a right on red, causing the crash, the court may decide you were 30 percent responsible and the second car was 70 percent responsible. You therefore are entitled to receiving 70 percent of the total damages you claim.
In the three scenarios above, pure the comparative negligence rule might translate into the following:
A. The driver with the poorly maintained vehicle would be responsible for 100 percent of your losses.
B. If the court determined the other driver’s poorly maintained vehicle was 60 percent at fault, you would be entitled to having 60 percent of your losses covered by him or her.
C. If the court determined that 90 percent of fault was due to the vehicle malfunction (e.g., the brakes failed), you could collect for 90 percent of your losses. But if the product failure was due to the manufacturer or a car mechanic, you can only recover for economic losses, not pain and suffering.
Clearly, any car accident can be complicated because partial or full fault must be determined. It is therefore imperative to contact a personal injury law firm that specializes in car accidents at your earliest opportunity – timely attention to the accident may help preserve key evidence that can have significant financial consequence.
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