June 6, 2023

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How Is Fault Determined In California After a Motorcycle Accident?

How is Fault Determined in a Motorcycle Accident?

Since the 1970s, several laws have been enacted in an attempt to keep riders safe by offering a legal recourse to seek compensation following motorcycle accidents. This has made it easier for victims to get the rightful compensation from the responsible parties.

However, the process of finding out who was at fault in California is often complex and confusing. This is because there must be proof that the other was at fault for you to win the case. If you were in an accident with a motorcycle, it is important to engage an experienced Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney to help in determining fault. The information below will further explore the fault determination process in California after a motorcycle accident.

Comparative Negligence Rule

In California, the fault of a motorcycle accident is determined through the comparative negligence rule. This rule states that if a defendant is 100% at fault, the plaintiff can claim 100% for their damages. However, if a person is less than 100% at fault, they are only responsible for paying their share of the damages. This means the victim can still recover damages although they were partly responsible.

This doctrine provides a realistic approach to determining and dividing fault among the parties. A defendant may claim that the plaintiff’s negligence was the primary cause, and the jury will decide on fault apportionment. The plaintiff’s damages will then be reduced based on the percentage of their negligence that resulted in the accident.

For instance, If the responsible party is only 30% at fault, they will end up paying 30% damages. The same applies if they are 70% responsible, the plaintiff can only recover 70% in damages.

Determining the Level of Responsibility

A judge or jury determines the level of responsibility in a motorbike accident. To determine responsibility where the plaintiff’s negligence caused the accident, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff was not only negligent but also that their negligence was a substantial factor in causing them harm.

If the defendant is successful, they will only owe the plaintiff an amount equal to their percentage damage. It’s important to note that the percentages must amount to 100 when dividing up fault between the involved parties. If there are two or more responsible parties, the plaintiff can recover from both of them through a process called “joint and several liability”. 

“Joint and several liability” in California applies to economic damages such as medical expenses, reduced or lost earning capacity, property damage, and non-economic damages such as emotional pain and suffering.

Other states such as Nevada follow the modified comparative negligence rule. With this rule, the plaintiff can’t recover damages if they were more than 50% responsible for the accident.


Common motorcycle accident causes include speeding, left turns, Driving under influence, and road hazards. In the occurrence of a motorcycle accident, victims can explore a variety of legal options that can help them recover damages from the responsible parties. If you or your loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident in California, you should contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to help you determine your rights and options under the law.