Is California a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

by Staff | October 4th, 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 California personal injury lawyers,  Berg Injury Lawyers, as soon as possible to ensure you file before the statute of limitation expires and to help preserve any evidence that can be used to establish fault in your case.

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.

Insurance companies determine the degree of fault based on the available proof. The more evidence you have regarding accident liability, the more likely you will collect a higher amount of compensation. Some forms of proof include photographs and videos of the accident scene, copies of medical and police reports, eyewitness accounts, driver and vehicle information, and 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 no matter the degree of fault assigned to you. However, to ensure you receive compensation for your injuries and any damage to your vehicle, you need an experienced 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.