August 17th, 2023|
Originally published October 4, 2021.
Each state has different laws for resolving accident and insurance disputes. For auto accidents, states have either “no-fault” or “at-fault” insurance laws. California is an at-fault state, which means the driver deemed responsible for the accident is liable for paying the costs of potential injuries and property damage sustained by other parties.
To receive compensation, you must be able to prove liability in your case. If you’re involved in an auto accident in California, contact the California personal injury lawyers, Berg Injury Lawyers, as soon as possible. Acting quickly can help preserve any evidence that can be used to establish fault in your case, and protect your rights to compensation.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AT-FAULT AND NO-FAULT LAW
Understanding the difference between no-fault and at-fault laws can help you choose the right level of insurance coverage to cover damage or injury in an auto accident and can help you know what to expect if your case goes to trial.
HOW AT-FAULT LAWS WORK
In an at-fault state, the party responsible for causing the auto accident, along with their insurance company, pays for the sustained injuries and damage in relation to their degree of fault.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you can claim compensation from the at-fault party. However, you must be able to prove liability before you’re entitled to receive any compensation.
If one or both parties aren’t satisfied with the payouts or liability distribution, they can file a lawsuit or dispute the claim. The at-fault driver is liable for damages related to medical expenses, loss of income, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium or companionship.
HOW NO-FAULT LAWS WORK
For auto accidents in a no-fault state, drivers must make claims through their insurance policies, whether or not they’re at fault. No-fault states require drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their policy.
Neither party needs to prove who is at fault since both insurance companies cover the costs of their client’s medical expenses. Property damage laws can vary between states, with some states requiring drivers to submit a separate claim if their vehicle is significantly damaged during an accident.
While no-fault laws eliminate lengthy disputes and claims, insurance coverage is typically expensive.
CALIFORNIA: AN AT-FAULT STATE
If you’re involved in an auto accident in California, you’re entitled to file a claim against the responsible party for the injuries and damage they caused, provided you can prove liability. However, according to California law, all drivers must have liability insurance that adheres to the state’s minimum requirements despite being an at-fault state.
- $5,000 coverage for property damage.
- $15,000 coverage for bodily injuries or death of one individual.
- $30,000 coverage for bodily injuries or death of multiple individuals.
California uses pure comparative negligence for car accidents. This means that responsibility can be shared when determining who is at fault. So, you may be entitled to receive compensation for injuries and damages even if you are partially at fault for a car accident.
This system is beneficial for both plaintiffs and defendants. Even if the plaintiff’s degree of fault exceeds the defendant’s, they can still recover a percentage of the damages awarded. For example, if a jury determines that the plaintiff is 80% at fault and the defendant is 20% at fault, then the defendant only pays 20% of the damages amount to the plaintiff.
The more evidence you have regarding the other party’s fault, the more likely you are to collect a higher amount of compensation. Some forms of evidence you should make sure to collect include:
- photographs and videos of the accident scene
- copies of medical and police reports
- eyewitness accounts
- driver and vehicle information for all involved vehicles
- receipts for medical and property costs
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT IN CALIFORNIA
If you are involved in an auto accident in California, the state’s at-fault insurance laws protect you even if you are partially at fault. However, to ensure you receive compensation for your injuries and any damage to your vehicle, you need an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney to navigate the complex California legal system.
The car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can help gather the evidence to determine liability in your case and represent you in court. Contact us for a free consultation, and let us help you fight for the compensation you deserve.