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Getting the Most from Your California Auto Accident Lawsuit, Even if Your Were Partly to Blame for the Crash

First and foremost, we all hope that, when we get into a vehicle, we won’t be in a collision. Failing that, we all hope that, if we are in a crash, the evidence will show that we were free of any blame for the accident. Real-life accidents, though, are often filled with many actions by various drivers that impact who is at fault for the crash and who isn’t, making the issue of liability one colored in shades of gray. If you were hurt in one of those not-black-and-white crashes, you need the help of a skilled San Mateo auto accident lawyer to get you everything you deserve.

The tragic accident that took the life of a Southern California man in 2016 was a real-life example of this concept within accident litigation. The man was headed from Pasadena to Burbank after attending a music performance when, in rainy conditions, he lost control of his vehicle on the rain-slicked 134 freeway. His vehicle left the roadway and crashed into a crash cushion attenuator.

In proper condition, a crash cushion attenuator would lessen the severity of an accident like this one. In this circumstance, however, the attenuator was already fully collapsed and offered no protection. The man died at the scene.

The estate of the deceased man had some very strong pieces of evidence on its side in its action against the California Department of Transportation. The proof showed that the attenuator was initially hit (and collapsed) on Feb. 18, 2016, more than two weeks before the man’s fatal crash, which meant it was more than one week in excess of CalTrans’s one-week standard for discovering and resetting a collapsed attenuator.

Using the Defendant’s Own Rules and Standards to Strengthen Your Case

This last part was very helpful. In many cases, proving that the party you sued engaged in action (or inaction) that amounted to legal negligence is highly subjective and requires things like lots of expert testimony. However, if you are suing an entity that has its own standard for what is reasonable and proper – and the entity fell short of meeting its standard – then that proof can go a long way toward establishing that the defendant’s action or inaction made it culpably negligent.

All of that was very important because there was also some damaging proof that went against the plaintiff. The evidence showed that the man was driving too fast for the rainy road conditions at the time he lost control. Additionally, there was proof that he drank some beers during the music concert, that he smelled of alcohol at the crash scene, and that blood test results showed a blood-alcohol level of .082, just slightly more than the criminal legal limit.

That negative evidence led the jury to determine that the man was 31% at fault for the crash, but still held CalTrans 69% to blame. Because of the favorable proof the estate presented, including the severity of harm, the jury awarded more than $21.1 in damages. This meant that, even when reduced for comparative fault, the award was still over $14.6 million. (California is a “pure comparative fault” state, which means that you are entitled to recover a damages award, whether you were 1%, 31%, or 91% to blame, as long you proved the defendant was negligent to some degree and that the negligence caused you to suffer harm.)

There are many variables and numerous “moving parts” in most any injury lawsuit arising from an auto accident. To make sure you’re getting the most you can from your case, rely on the skilled San Mateo auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos to be on top of all of those variables and “moving parts,” and use them to your maximum benefit. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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Client Reviews

    I retained Ilya Frangos of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos on a business litigation matter involving a frivolous lawsuit filed in federal court. Ilya guided me through the case and helped make sure that I understood the process… He always took the time to answer all my questions and helped put my mind at ease. I would highly recommend him and this firm!


    I called Mr Frye after my wife had passed away… John listened to my case over the phone, after aggreeing to represent me, handled everything from there… I have already recommended Mr Frye to a friend for help with a similiar case and would without reserve recommend him to anybody. He came highly recommended as an expert in these type cases, and I believe he demonstrated this personally.


    Chantel Fitting is as good as it gets. If you have been injured, need help and cant get what you know you deserve from one of the big insurance companies, then you have got to call Chantel. She will fight for you like it was her that was hurt… She cares. Call her. You wont be sorry you did.

    Cindy C.

    A great experience. Excellent law firm which treats their client’s with the utmost respect. Very knowledgeable and made me fell extremely secure when handling my personal injury claim. Would highly recommend Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos to handle your next case.

    Lisa D.

    I was fortunate enough to have been represented and retained by this law firm for my injuries sustained by an under insured motorist. I must say Chantel Fitting and Illya Frangos went above and beyond trying to resolve my case… I would highly recommend this law firm and stop shopping around if you are looking for the best, as this is as good as it gets.

    Joanna K.

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