California’s Car Insurance Laws
California operates under a fault-based system for car accidents and insurance purposes. This means a driver is responsible for the damages he or she causes on the road. Drivers must purchase automobile insurance that covers the state’s minimum insurance requirements. It’s also important to understand how fault works in car accident insurance settlements and lawsuits. An Orange County car accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal process.
California’s Minimum Insurance Requirements
All licensed drivers in California must carry the state’s minimum automobile insurance coverage. In California, a minimum policy must include 15/30/5 coverage. This means $15,000 in coverage for bodily injury liability for a single person, $30,000 in liability coverage for a single accident, and up to $5,000 property damage coverage for a single accident. While these are the state’s minimum requirements, most insurance carriers offer policyholders the option of purchasing additional coverage or extra types of coverage that can provide more flexibility after an accident.
California has one of the highest numbers of uninsured drivers in the country, with more than 15% of drivers on California roads having insufficient insurance coverage or no insurance coverage. Many auto insurance providers offer underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage in the event of an accident with such a driver.
Policyholders may also have the option of purchasing comprehensive coverage that covers theft-related damage or weather damage. Collision coverage can provide additional property damage coverage for your vehicle, and you may also be able to purchase towing coverage, rental car coverage, and higher caps on your coverage amounts. Remember, the more coverage your purchase, the more expensive your monthly premium payment will be.
Determining Fault for an Orange County Car Accident
When a driver suffers injuries from an accident, it is vital to determine who, if anyone, is responsible for the accident. California law requires drivers to notify the police of any accident that results in bodily injury, death, or significant property damage. However, it’s wise to report any accident to the police beyond a very mild fender-bender at low speed. The police will investigate the collision site and take statements from everyone involved. They may also ask witnesses who saw the crash their versions of events.
Your first priority after any accident should be to seek medical care, even if you think your injuries aren’t very severe. Once you have a doctor check your injuries and provide you with a medical report, you can secure a copy of the police report from the accident as well. If you believe another driver is to blame for your injuries, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to start building your case.
Your attorney will help you gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case, and this will include documentation that proves the extent of your injuries and other losses. The court will assess the defendant’s fault based on the facts of the case. For example, if you were driving illegally and another driver collided with your vehicle after running a red light, it is very likely the other driver will absorb the entirety of fault for the collision.
However, if you were speeding at the time or otherwise contributed to the collision, you may absorb a portion of fault for the resulting damages as well. California follows a comparative negligence law, so a plaintiff may still recover damages for an accident for which he or she is partially at fault but will lose a portion of the case award equal to his or her fault percentage.
If you have any amount of fault in an accident, it could interfere with an insurance claim against another driver’s insurance carrier or your own. An experienced injury attorney from our Orange County personal injury law firm with a solid history of successful auto accident claims can help you determine the validity of your claim and whether or not you should expect to absorb any fault for the incident. Your Orange County personal injury lawyer should also be able to handle correspondence with insurance companies and provide you with a breakdown of the types of compensation you could secure if you succeed with your claim.