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Personal Injury Liability: How Liability Is Determined

If you or somebody you love has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, then you are likely wondering whether or not you can secure compensation for your losses. Anytime a person is injured due to the actions of another individual, business, or entity, they are usually able to recover some sort of compensation.

However, securing this compensation hinges on determining the liability of the other party. Here, we want to discuss how liability is determined in these situations.

Determining Liability Means Securing Evidence

At the heart of these cases, and the reason for gathering evidence is showing that the at-fault party was negligent in some way. Personal injury cases hinge on determining negligence. Part of determining negligence is showing that the alleged at-fault party owed a duty of care to the injury victim. This duty of care will look different depending on the situation.

For example, all drivers on the roadway must operate their vehicles safely because they have a duty of care to others around them. Property owners are responsible for ensuring that their premises are safe for those who have a right to be there. Doctors owe a duty of care to their patients.

When working to determine liability in a personal injury case, it is absolutely crucial to have evidence. Evidence is what insurance carriers and personal injury juries are going to be looking at when they are making decisions about fault and compensation amounts. No two personal injury cases are exactly alike, and the evidence gathered for one particular incident will not be the exact same type of evidence for another type of incident.

For example, the evidence that an injury victim needs after a car accident is going to look different than the evidence needed to prove a slip and fall injury that occurred in a grocery store. However, some of the most common types of evidence used to prove liability in a personal injury case include the following:

  • Video surveillance of the incident
  • Photographs taken right after the injury occurred
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Property owner safety and maintenance records
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • Mobile device data

However, gathering all of the evidence available in the aftermath of the incident may not be enough to prove liability. In some cases, an injury victim and their San Bernardino personal injury attorney will need to work with accident reconstruction experts who can analyze all of the evidence gathered, review the accident scene, and present this information to the insurance carriers or a personal injury jury.

What About Shared Liability?

When we start to talk about the reality of personal injury cases, we have to realize that liability is not always cut and dry. What we mean by this is that it is not uncommon for more than one party to be at fault for an injury. In some cases, personal injury victims may share responsibility for causing their own injury.

The good news is that California operates under what is called a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that even a person who shares some responsibility for causing their injury can still recover compensation. In this state, a person can recover compensation if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation in these cases will be reduced based on a person’s percentage of fault.