Is California Considered a Fault or No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

damage to front of car on roadEvery state is either an at-fault or no-fault state when it comes to financial responsibility for damages from a car accident. In fault states, the party who is responsible for causing the accident is also liable for the damages that he or she caused, up to the limits of his or her insurance policy. In no-fault insurance states, all registered car owners are required to maintain no-fault insurance policies from which they seek coverage in case of an accident, regardless if they or someone else caused the accident. California is considered a financial responsibility state, or at-fault state.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in California, it is important that you contact an experienced car accident lawyer in Sacramento to learn about more about your rights and how to protect your claim for maximum compensation.

Who Pays for Injuries After a Car Accident?

In California, at-fault drivers are legally required to pay for the damages that they cause in a collision. If you are found at fault for the crash, you will be required to compensate the victim for the damages he or she sustained. When multiple parties share liability for an accident, each driver is responsible for covering the percentage of damages for which they are responsible.

All drivers must have insurance in order to legally operate a vehicle in the state. Drivers must carry proof of insurance in their vehicle. Once involved in an accident, all drivers are also required to exchange their contact and insurance information with one another.

Filing an Insurance Claim in California

After an accident, you may be entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance for your injuries and other losses.

However, it is important to involve an attorney in your car accident case as soon as possible because insurance companies often try to minimize their payouts on claims, undermine claims by shifting the fault to the victim or engaging in other questionable tactics. A reputable lawyer can defend your claim against these tactics.

You will need to contact the at-fault party’s insurance company to provide basic information about the accident. Describe the facts of what happened in as much detail as you can. The agent may give additional instructions on filing a report. You may also turn to your own insurance’s personal injury protection to cover some of your damages. 

Proof of Insurance Requirements for Drivers

All drivers are required to carry proof of financial responsibility with them. In most situations, this is done by purchasing insurance that meets the state’s minimum limits. This coverage is intended to compensate others who are injured because of the insured’s conduct. The minimum amounts of liability coverage in California include:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people
  • $5,000 for property damage you cause in an accident

These are the mandatory minimum amounts, but many drivers choose to purchase additional insurance since these amounts may easily be exceeded. If the policy limits are exhausted, the at-fault driver is responsible for any additional damages.

There are other ways to satisfy the state’s financial responsibility laws. For example, you can do any of the following: 

  • Make a cash deposit of $35,000 with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Obtain a self-insurance certificate from the California DMV
  • Obtain a $35,000 surety bond from an insurance company licensed to do business in California

Evidence Needed to Establish Fault

In order to collect compensation from the other party’s insurance company, you must prove fault. It is important that you and your attorney thoroughly investigate your claim and gather evidence that helps to establish fault, such as:

  • Bills for property damage
  • Photos of vehicle damage, skid marks, traffic signs and other aspects of the accident scene
  • Video of the accident
  • The police report
  • Eyewitness statements

In some cases, it may be necessary to use a car accident reconstruction expert who can analyze the facts of the accident and determine its cause and contributing factors.

Learn More About Your Rights

If you need help understanding California’s at-fault car accident laws after sustaining an injury, contact The Arnold Law Firm for legal help. There are many benefits to hiring a car accident attorney, including dealing with insurers, proving liability, and supporting your claim with evidence.

The Arnold Law Firm offers a risk-free consultation where we can review the circumstances of your case and determine the legal options available to you. Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, so we do get paid unless you recover compensation.

Give us a call at (916) 777-7777.