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Did you know that you can recover damages in a product liability lawsuit even if your negligence contributed to your injuries or you were partially to blame for your injuries? This is because California enacted the “comparative fault” legal doctrine for personal injury cases, including product liability.

The comparative fault doctrine in California is also referred to as “shared fault” or “comparative negligence,” and allows you to sue the manufacturer of the defective or dangerous product even if you were over 50 percent responsible for the injury. In almost all other states in our country, you cannot recover compensation if you were more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries.

Percentage of fault in comparative negligence

Under California’s comparative fault doctrine in strict liability cases, the amount of compensation you can recover is limited by the percentage of your own negligence or fault. In other words, you are entitled to the percentage of fault for which the defendant is responsible.

Our San Francisco product liability attorney from the Allegiance Law explains that when more than one party is at fault for causing injuries, the jury will apportion responsibility based on each of the parties’ negligence.

Although the percentage of the fault must total 100 percent, the jury makes separate determinations to establish each party’s responsibility. Meaning: the jury will determine the percentage of fault for each party without taking into account the percentage of responsibility is assigned to the other party. As a result, the percentage in sum must total 100 percent in total damages.

Only an experienced product liability attorney in San Francisco or elsewhere in California can accurately determine the percentage of fault after examining your particular case in order to estimate the total value of your compensation.

False accusations of misuse in product liability cases

More often than not, manufacturers of defective products and all other parties involved in the chain of distribution, including but not limited to suppliers, sellers, and distributors, will shift the blame on the injured consumer by arguing that the plaintiff was partially to blame for the accident that caused him or her injuries.

Our San Francisco product liability attorney warns that in many cases, manufacturers may bluff and falsely accuse you (the injured consumer) of misuse or failure to comply with the instructions and warnings. When this happens in a product liability case, the importance of being legally represented by a skilled lawyer is paramount.

How your compensation could be reduced in a product liability case

In order to successfully argue that the injured consumer was negligent and/or partially to blame for his/her injuries, the defendant must establish both of the following elements:

  • The plaintiff negligently used, misused, abused, or modified the product.
  • The plaintiff was otherwise negligent.
  • This negligent act or omission to act was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries.

If the defendant and his/her lawyer successfully prove these elements of comparative negligence, the plaintiff’s recoverable damages will be reduced by the percentage of his/her own negligence. When examining the consumer’s potential misuse or modification as the defendant’s defense, the jury will have to determine whether or not that misuse or modification was unforeseeable, and therefore the manufacturer could not be reasonably expected to foresee it and warn against it.

Does it sound confusing? Do not worry – let us provide you with a detailed explanation in a free consultation. Contact the Allegiance Law by calling at 415-404-6395 or complete this contact form.

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