In the wake of a car accident in California, one side may be able to file a claim against the other. It all depends on the degree to which each side was at fault. There are roughly two ways of going about determining fault in a crash: by proving that a motor vehicle statute was violated and by using the common law definition of fault.
Under common law, there are four levels of fault. Negligence is the lowest because it is merely careless and never implied any intention to harm. This is followed by recklessness (wanton conduct) and intentional misconduct. Drunk driving, for instance, can fall under either. Then there is strict liability, which can be invoked even in the absence of fault, such as when a defective car part contributed to a crash.
Most times, though, one will determine fault based on the violation of a motor vehicle statute: an act that is naturally presumed to arise from negligence. So, for example, a driver who speeds or runs a red light is obviously negligent. However, the other side may have been negligent, too, in which case the doctrine of proximate cause would come in. This means asking if the accident would have occurred (or the injuries been as bad as they were) were it not for the negligent act in question.
There are many steps to handle in cases involving motor vehicle accidents, so those who wish to pursue one may want legal assistance. A lawyer may use crash investigators to prove the other’s negligence. If victims themselves were partly to blame, the lawyer may still be able to negotiate for a reasonable settlement out of court. If one cannot be achieved, then victims may consider litigation. A successful claim could cover losses like medical expenses and pain and suffering.