If you share part of the fault for causing a car accident, state laws differ significantly when it comes to how your claim is affected. In California, you can recover compensation from any other at-fault party, regardless of the degree of your own fault. BUT any compensation you recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault. In legalese, this means California is a “pure comparative negligence” state.

So, how is this “pure comparative negligence” rule applied in the real world? Not only do California judges and juries follow it in a court-based lawsuit (should your case get that far), but you can be sure that an insurance claim adjuster will look to California’s comparative fault rules when figuring out how much your claim might be worth.

For example, let’s say you’re in a car accident where another driver made an unsafe lane change and side-swiped you. But you happened to be driving a little fast at the time, according to witnesses and a police report that was prepared after the accident. Your car accident lawsuit makes it all the way to trial, and you’re deemed to be 15% at fault for the accident, while the other driver is 85% at fault. Your total damages are $10,000 — including vehicle damage, medical bills, and lost income. Under California’s comparative fault rules, you’re entitled to recover $8,500 from the at-fault driver (your $10,000 in damages less 15% as your percentage of fault).