You are injured in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault. After receiving medical care and being out of work while you recover, you expect the insurance company for the at-fault driver to compensate you for your injuries and losses. However, you receive a letter from the insurance provider claiming that the value of your claim is one-half of the amount you believe you are entitled to receive. They refer to California’s comparative fault law as their reason for reducing the amount of your claim. Can they do that? What is comparative fault?
California’s Pure Comparative Fault Standard
Each state has enacted laws or has case law that defines the state’s standard for comparative fault or contributory negligence. The laws vary by state. Therefore, you should always discuss your case with an attorney before accepting anything an insurance company might tell you about comparative fault or contributory negligence.
California case law has established a pure comparative fault standard for use in cases involving negligence and injury. The theory behind comparative fault is that an individual’s compensation for an injury claim is based on the individual’s proportionate share of fault for the cause of the accident or injury. In other words, the more at-fault you are for the cause of the motorcycle accident, the less money you can receive for your damages.
Let’s assume that your motorcycle accident claim is worth $300,000. The insurance company claims that you are 50 percent at fault for the cause of the crash. Therefore, the amount of your compensation for the injury claim is reduced by 50 percent. The most you could receive in this case would be $150,000 (total value of the claim multiplied by 50 percent).
California’s pure comparative fault standard allows accident victims to recover compensation even if they are 99 percent responsible for the cause of the crash. Some states have a 50 percent or 51 percent bar for comparative fault claims. In those states, if the victim of an accident is more than 50 or 51 percent at fault (depending on the state), the victim is barred from receiving any compensation for the injury claim.
Blaming Bikers for Motorcycle Accidents
Some people believe that bikers are inherently reckless and dangerous. They assume all motorcyclists take too many chances when riding, always exceed safe speeds, and are reckless. Insurance companies often take advantage of these untrue, unfounded, and unfair stereotypes of motorcyclists to allege that a rider is responsible for the cause of a crash. In cases in which fault is difficult to prove, the insurance company may be successful in using this tactic with a jury.
Why would the insurance company use this tactic? Because they can reduce the amount they must pay to settle the claim under comparative fault standards. The more blame they can place on the biker for the cause of the motorcycle accident, the less money they must pay.
Contact a Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Help
Our California personal injury lawyers understand insurance tactics, including the use of comparative fault to reduce the value of a valid injury claim. We stand with motorcyclists and fight for full compensation for all damages. Let us help you hold a reckless and negligent driver responsible for the pain, suffering, and financial losses you incurred because of a motorcycle crash.
Contact The Tiemann Law Firm at (916) 999-9000 or by visiting our website to schedule a free consultation with one of our Sacramento motorcycle accident attorneys.