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Determining the Amount of Compensation for Car Accident Victims

10th December 2009
By Mesriani Law Group in Accident claims
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In an automobile accident, the amount of compensation given to victims is affected by their own conduct and the actions of the drivers who cause the injury.

To determine the approximate amount of compensation the plaintiffs should receive, most courts in the US are using contributory and comparative negligence systems.


The theory behind comparative negligence is that a defendant will not pay for all the damages in case that the court proves that the plaintiff has also contributed to his injury for being negligent.

For example, a pedestrian ignored the warning sign not to cross the street and was hit by an over-speeding car. In this situation, it is obvious that the pedestrian and the driver were both reckless and have contributed to the accident.

According to Los Angeles lawyers, the comparative negligence system uses the percentage of fault to determine the amount of compensation. For example, the court finds that the pedestrian is 25 percent at-fault and decides to give him $20,000. This amount will be then reduced to $15,000 since he has also contributed to his injuries for being reckless.

However, some states do not grant compensation for victims if their negligence is greater than the defendants' recklessness.


If a person who has been charged with a lawsuit, he may avoid any liability if he can show that the victim's own recklessness has contributed to the accident.

There are ways to establish the recklessness of plaintiffs:

• They were over-speeding at the time of the accident.
• They rode with a driver even if they were fully aware that he was drunk or reckless.
• Their action has interfered with the driver, thus resulting to an accident.
• They drove their cars even if they were fully aware that this had some defects (e.g. no light signals, flat tires, or weak brakes).
• They changed their lanes without signaling the other motorists or they were making unexpected movements.
• They ignored a traffic sign or traffic light.
• If they were pedestrians, the plaintiffs are considered negligent if they ignored a warning sign or made an unexpected movement.

Under the strict definition of contributory negligence, anyone who has contributed to the accident in any way (regardless of the degree of recklessness), will not receive any compensation for his injuries. Because this system is rigid, only few states follow this.

Some states, which used to follow the contributory negligence, have adopted the comparative negligence system which is considered by most tort reformists as a more "humane" law.

Our expert Los Angeles lawyers are experienced in handling automobile accident cases. For consultation, visit our website and avail of our free case analysis.
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