In the majority of states including California, car insurance is fault-based, which is known as a tort state. This means that someone must be determined to be at fault after an accident occurs.
The driver who is found to be at fault for an accident is financially responsible to pay for injuries and damages that they cause. The at-fault system is intended to hold people that are responsible for car wrecks accountable for their actions.
It’s possible for more than one driver to be found partially at fault. This requires a determination of the percentage that each driver contributed to an accident.
Tort Liability Versus No-Fault Car Insurance
The fact that California is a tort liability state means that in order to obtain financial compensation for your losses after a car accident, you will need to be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. This isn’t the case in no-fault states. In contrast to California, if you lived in a no-fault state, your own insurance company would pay your claim through personal injury protection.
California is one of 38 states that use the tort liability system. In California, if you are injured in an accident caused by another driver, you have the right to sue them for several different things, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Financial Responsibility Requirements in California
In an at-fault state, if you are the victim, you have the right to sue the negligent party. On the other hand, if you are the person who causes an accident, you are expected to take financial responsibility for any injuries or damage that you cause. Drivers can prove their financial responsibility in several different ways including:
- Purchasing an auto insurance policy with the minimum liability limits, which is at least $15,000 in coverage for injury or death of one person; $30,000 for injury or death of two or more people and at least $5,000 in coverage for property damage
- Pay a $35,000 cash deposit to the DMV
- Acquire a $35,000 surety bond from a person who is licensed to issue them
- Get a self-insurance certificate from the DMV
Whichever of these choices you make, since California is an at-fault state, you need to be prepared to pay for any damage or injury that you might cause.
How Liability is Determined
When you are in a California accident, you will need to make a written report of the details of the wreck to the police department in the city where it happened or to the California Highway Patrol. If a law enforcement representative comes to the scene of the accident, the officer will take care of filing the report.
Insurance companies typically rely on the police report to help determine if one driver was fully or primarily at fault. It’s a good idea for you to gather as much evidence as you can at the scene of the accident that will back up your version of how the accident occurred, including:
- writing down detailed information about what happened,
- taking pictures of both vehicles and
- getting statements from witnesses along with their contact information.
Obtaining Compensation After a California Accident
Since California is a fault state, you have the right to obtain compensation for injuries, property damage and possibly pain and suffering if your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence. Contact Kuvara Law Firm by filling out the form and one of our lawyers will get back to you very soon to find out what happened and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.