When you get into a car accident in California, you may wonder who is responsible for paying your damages. Are you expected to file a claim with your own insurance company or do you have to collect the insurance details of the other driver? While some states operate on a no-fault basis, where your own insurance absorbs the costs of an accident, California follows a traditional fault-based system.
What Is No-Fault Insurance?
California follows a fault car insurance system, which means that the at-fault party in a car accident is responsible for paying for your injuries and damages, along with the injuries of everyone else involved in the accident. You have three options for collecting compensation after a car accident.
- You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- You can file a claim with your own insurance company.
- You can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court.
In a no-fault insurance state, fault does not initially matter in collecting compensation after a car accident. Drivers have to carry a certain amount of insurance to pay for their own injuries and damages, instead of paying for other people’s injuries. If that insurance is not enough to cover their damages, victims who were not at-fault for the accident can choose to file a claim against the at-fault driver if they meet certain criteria. Usually, they have to have severe injuries or incur a certain amount of damage.
California’s Car Insurance Laws
In California, you have to carry enough car insurance so that you can pay for the injuries of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians if you cause a car accident. The state requires every driver to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to absorb these costs.
- $15,000 for bodily injury liability to one person per accident you cause
- $30,000 for total bodily injury liability per accident you cause
- $5,000 for property damage per accident you cause
If you do not carry this minimum amount of insurance, you can face penalties such as license suspension and fines. You can choose to purchase more than the minimum amount for your policy, as well as additional forms of coverage such as personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In case the other person in your accident does not have insurance or does not carry enough, you can use this additional coverage to compensate for some of your injuries.
What to Do After a Car Accident in California
Car accidents are very common occurrences in California and if you were not at-fault, you can claim compensation for your injuries through a lawsuit or insurance claim. However, a successful claim requires that you take the following steps to preserve evidence after your accident.
- After the accident, call 911 to bring law enforcement to the scene. The police report will be a crucial piece of evidence in your claim.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident. Your medical report will be another crucial piece of evidence and it is important to treat your injuries to prevent them from worsening.
- If you are able, get out of the car and take pictures of the scene. Take pictures of the cars, the surroundings, any traffic signs, and the area around the accident.
- Collect the information of the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. Take pictures of his or her license plate, insurance information, and driver’s license.
- If there are any witnesses at the scene, approach them and ask if you could have their contact information. These witnesses could provide testimony in your future claim.
- Contact an accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to begin your claim.
If you suffer injuries in a car accident and you were not at-fault for the accident, you can file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver for your injuries. However, navigating these claims can be tricky without a legal background. As soon as possible after your accident, contact an Orange County car accident lawyer at Bentley & More LLP to help represent your case and guide you through the insurance process.