Car accidents are incredibly stressful, whether a minor fender bender or a catastrophic incident. While there’s no way to eliminate the stress, understanding California’s car accident laws can help you navigate the process following the crash and protect your assets and your rights.
Understanding Fault and Responsibility in California Car Accidents
California is not a no-fault state. This means that whoever is found responsible must pay for injuries and property damages. If you’ve been in a car accident, you will file a claim with your insurance company as will the other driver.
The insurance adjuster from each insurance company then looks at the facts, speaks with both parties involved, and reviews medical bills, records, and the police report. Both insurance companies then examine the facts and decide who caused the accident. They will then use this information to create a report declaring who they believe to be responsible.
Your insurance company and the other drivers may decide both are at fault. For example, you may be responsible for 40% of the accident while the other driver was responsible for 60%. The percentage of fault will help decide whether and how much financial compensation you’ll receive.
According to California car accident laws, a driver is responsible for injuries if they are negligent. This means:
- Their carelessness was the direct and proximate cause of the accident.
- The accident caused some sort of physical or property damage
- They are responsible for damages
California Insurance Coverage Requirements
California has minimum insurance coverage requirements to recover accident-related costs, personal injury, or property damage. They are:
- $15,000 for injury/death to one person
- $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
When You Are Required to File an Accident Report
According to California car accident reporting requirements, you must:
- Call 911 if anyone is injured.
- Call the police.
- Exchange your name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number with every driver involved.
- Get the license plate and vehicle identification numbers for each involved car.
- Ask witnesses and other passengers for their contact information.
- Take photos of the damage and accident scene if possible.
- Leave a note with your contact information and that of anyone else who was involved if you can’t find the owner of a damaged vehicle or property.
- Notify your insurance company.
- If injuries or vehicle damage exceeds $750, you must report the accident to the DMV within 10 days.
California Car Accident Statute of Limitations
In the Golden State, you have two years to file a lawsuit for car accident damages. The only exception would be if the injured party is mentally incompetent or incapable of filing a claim. If you’re under 18, you have until your 18th birthday in addition to the two-year statutory period. Also, the statutory period can be extended if you discover an injury after the fact.
Trusted Car Accident Attorneys in the Bay Area Fighting for You
A car accident is stressful enough without fighting to get the compensation you deserve. At Sally Morin, our committed car accident attorneys are passionate about helping Bay Area drivers maximize the money in their pockets. We convince medical providers to lower their bills and identify evidence that proves pain and suffering to help recover lost wages. In most cases, we can negotiate a valuable auto insurance settlement without you ever having to set foot in court. Call us at 877-380-8852 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.