What is Tort Law?
California tort law covers cases involving personal injury or other losses. The tort system provides accident and injury victims with a method for filing a lawsuit against the at-fault parties to recover compensation for damages. The primary purpose of tort law is to grant victims a means of recovering a fair settlement while also discouraging other parties from committing similar acts that result in injury. It is rare, but some cases under tort law could also result in imprisonment for the at-fault party in addition to a financial penalty.
In California tort law, accident claims and personal injury claims are filed by the wronged party (the personal injury victim or accident victim). In criminal cases, charges are brought by federal, state, or local government authorities.
There are three types of tort cases recognized in California, these include:
- Intentional acts – A person acts with malicious intent and knows that they are committing wrongdoings against innocent victims. The at-fault party likely knows that their acts are illegal and unethical.
- Negligent acts – The at-fault party acted negligently and should have practiced more care but failed to do so, resulting in an accident and injuries to the victims.
- Strict liability – Regardless of the intent, if the defendant committed a certain act, they may be held accountable by strict liability terms of the law. Strict liability cases include injuries resulting from dog bites and animal attacks.
What Tort Laws Are Unique to California?
The California Tort Claims Act (CTCA) has rules that exempt government agencies and their employees from liability for their actions. This is sometimes known as ‘sovereign immunity.’ Many states have adopted this regulation to limit liability for state actions, with a few exceptions.
The CTCA makes exceptions for negligence cases that arise from car accidents, intentional wrongdoing, breach of contracts, nuisance cases, medical negligence claims, and slip-and-fall accidents.
The CTCA does not cover cases involving injuries caused by the failure to enforce a law or ordinance of the state.
To learn more about California’s unique tort laws, please contact our law firm for a free consultation.
What is Accident and Personal Injury Negligence?
Accidents caused by someone else’s negligence (or your own negligence) which result in injuries and other losses can be considered negligent accident cases.
Negligence is defined as the failure to act accordingly in a situation to safeguard proper care for yourself and others. For example, we all owe a duty of care to other drivers on the roadways, and if we breach that duty, injuries could occur in any resulting accident.
What Accident Types Can Be at the Center of Negligence Claims?
Cases involving negligence can derive from several different types of personal injury accidents. These include:
- Bicycle accidents where a car drifts into the bicycle lane.
- Car accidents caused by distracted driving.
- Driving over the speed limit.
- Driving under the influence of drugs.
- Drunk driving accidents.
- Medical malpractice cases wherein a health care professional acted negligently or recklessly.
- Operating a motor vehicle that is poorly maintained and in need of emergency maintenance.
- Pedestrian accidents on the crosswalk.
- Slip and fall accidents caused by slippery floors, debris, broken pavement, and other causes that were not adequately addressed by property owners or management staff.
- Texting while driving accidents.
- Truck driver fatigue resulting in a commercial trucking accident.
- Workplace accidents caused by hazardous conditions that were not properly addressed.
What is Comparative Fault and How Does it Work in California?
Comparative fault (also known as comparative negligence) Is a legal understanding of accident cases wherein judges are permitted to divide accountability for who is to blame in an accident case. It is possible for multiple parties to hold liability for causing an accident in a comparative negligence state.
If you were not at all responsible for causing an accident, then the at-fault party may hold 100% of the liability for your personal injury claim. In such cases, you would recover 100% of the settlement for your personal injury case. However, if, for example, you were responsible for 30% of the accident, then you may see your total settlement reduced by 30%.
California is one of 13 states that recognizes the pure comparative fault rule, which allows an injured party to recover compensation for their damages even if they were 99% to blame for causing the accident. Remember, however, that the amount they may hope to recover will be substantially reduced because they share most of the liability.
What is the Difference Between Comparative and Contributory Negligence?
California is a comparative negligence state meaning that you can recover damages even if you share a portion of responsibility for causing the accident.
Some states are contributory negligence states. California was a contributory fault state until the California Supreme Court replaced that law in 1975.
In contributory negligence states, plaintiffs cannot recover any damages if they were found partially responsible for the accident. This means that if you were as much as 1% responsible for causing an accident in a contributory negligence state, you cannot hope to recover a settlement for your case.
Only four states, plus Washington DC, follow contributory negligence fault laws. These states include Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.
What if Both Parties Sue Each Other?
If both parties sustained injuries and both parties were partially at fault for causing the accident, then they may each file personal injury claims. In such cases, the first party would file a personal injury lawsuit, and then the defendant would file their counterclaim.
Contact Us for a Free Case Evaluation
The Law Office of Daniel Deng has extensive experience representing clients and personal injury cases across the state of California. We have a firm understanding of California’s tort system, and we would be happy to help inform you of how tort law pertains to your accident claim.
To learn more about our services and how we may help you with your personal injury case, please schedule a free case review by contacting our law offices at 626-280-6000.