Car Accident Laws in California plus FAQ’s

Car Accident State Laws in California plus FAQ’s

Car Accident Laws in California

Car accidents can inflict serious and even life-changing injuries. If you’ve had a car accident in California, you might just be entitled to some kind of monetary compensation. California’s car accident laws can be different from the ones you might be familiar with. They can also impact legal claims that you might decide to file. This is why it’s important to understand your obligations as a driver, how to determine fault, and what can potentially affect your ability to obtain compensation.

Once you’ve concluded that you want to get compensation by filing a lawsuit, it’s ideal to hire an auto accident attorney that has the necessary experience in navigating the complex laws of California and all of its procedures.

Here’s what you need to know about the car accident laws in California:

Every single driver in California has to provide a reasonable amount of care to avoid injuring others. Drivers must also obey all traffic laws, pay attention to the road conditions, and drive safely and responsibly.

In the event of an auto accident in California, all drivers involved are required to stop and check to see if there has been anyone injured. If someone has been either injured or killed, it’s the law for drivers to stop at the scene, exchange information, and give assistance, if possible, to anyone who has been injured. The accident should also be reported to California Highway Patrol or the local police department within 24 hours.


Minimal Insurance Requirements

Under California state laws, it is required that vehicle owners be financially responsible for all accidents that they’re involved in. It is required that all vehicles are covered with the minimum 15/30/5 insurance, which means they have the maximum coverage:

  • $15,000 in regards to the injury or death of one person
  • $30,000 in regards to the injury or death of more than one person
  • $5,000 in regards to property damage

Drivers must have proof of insurance available in case they’re involved in an auto accident. They must show the proof when they’re involved in an auto accident, when law enforcement officers ask to see it, or when renewing or initially obtaining vehicle registration. If one fails to provide such proof, it can result in the issuance of fines or the loss of driving privileges.


What’s Required for Reporting Accidents

California car accident laws state that if you’re involved in an accident in the state that results in property damage exceeding $1,000 or any personal injury, you have to legally report the crash. All accidents must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by you, your insurance company, or your attorney within 10 days.


Statute of Limitations in California

Every state has its own Statute of Limitations. For California, the law limits the amount of time a car accident victim has to file their legal claim for damages. The time that is allowed will depend on the type of damage that was suffered in the accident.

  • Property Damage: Victims who have suffered property damage have 3 years from the accident date to file their claim.
  • Bodily Injury: Victims that have suffered bodily injury have 2 years from the date of the auto accident to file their claims.

Auto Accident Liability Laws

The following include car accident laws in California regarding liability:

Comparative Fault: Comparative fault is a law that allows any injured person in an accident to recover compensation as long as they are not entirely responsible for the crash that caused the injuries. This helps ensure that the victims can recover at least part of the damages they sustained in the accident. The theory of pure comparative fault is something that California sticks to. The principles of this theory mean:

  • More than one person can be held financially responsible for any harm caused by the accident.
  • Victims aren’t prohibited from recovering compensation if they contributed to the accident.

Apportionment of Fault: This is when more than one person ends up being responsible for the accident. Each person will be held financially responsible to a degree of their own fault. If the victim from the accident contributes to their own accident or injury, their ability to recover some kind of compensation will be reduced.


Damages Involving Auto Accidents in California

In terms of car accident laws in California, personal injury victims obtain the right to recover the damages that they’ve suffered due to the negligence of others. California and other states tend to divide the damages into different categories. Economic damages include losses that are connected to a certain economic loss, such as vehicle repair, medical expenses, lost income, burial expenses, and more, while non-economic damages are those that aren’t easy to compute, such as pain and suffering, disability, emotional distress, mental anguish, etc.



Find An Auto Accident Attorney In Your Area

Auto Accident FAQ

Your first and foremost action following an accident is to stay calm, check if you or anyone else involved has been injured, and call the police. Get the name and contact information of all parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the event. To document the damage, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and your injuries. It’s important not to admit liability until you hire an attorney because they will conduct a thorough investigation to establish the driver at fault.
Right after a car accident, you may feel fine, but injuries can surface days, weeks, and even months later. That’s why it’s good to see a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured in the accident. Your doctor can recognize issues or injuries that won’t immediately become apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise due to the accident. If you fail to treat your injuries within a certain period of time, you may forfeit your right to get reimbursement for future medical costs. The general rule is not to settle auto accident claims without having been examined by a medical professional.
In most cases, you won’t have to go to court. The majority of auto accident claims are resolved outside of court after negotiating the terms with the insurer. Most insurance companies generally try to settle claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, so it’s wise to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
In addition to taking pictures of the accident scene and taking the contact information of the involved parties and witnesses, your detailed explanation of how the accident happened is also necessary to file a claim. Law enforcement reports of the accident will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Many factors determine the driver at fault in an auto accident case. Do not accept any part of the blame until the investigation has concluded. Even if the investigation finds that you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to receive compensation. There are cases when the victim also shares part of the blame for an accident. If, for example, you were driving five to ten mph over the speed limit when the accident happened, this would have limited your reaction time, and you could likely be considered a negligent driver even if you weren’t the one to cause the crash. Different states have different ways of settling auto accident claims where more than one driver is at fault. So it’s best to check the specific laws in your state (or the state where the accident took place) or discuss the matter with your auto accident injury lawyer.
It happens surprisingly often that people get into an auto accident where the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance. In these situations, it’s wise to have an auto insurance policy that comes with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. That way, if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you will still be able to file your claim under the UM coverage you have with your own insurance company. Your insurer will then process the claim following the same process as it would for an opposing insurer. The only difference is that the claim will be against your UM coverage and not against another driver. Likewise, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver fled the scene before you could take their information, you can again seek compensation from your UM coverage.
Suppose you suffered injuries after an auto accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence. In that case, there are two main types of damages that you may seek compensation for: compensatory (a.k.a. monetary) and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in a personal injury claim, and they often include: ● Current and future medical bills ● Property damage ● Emotional duress ● Lost wages ● Loss of enjoyment of life ● Loss of future earnings potential On the other hand, punitive damages are much rarer, but they can occur in situations where the vehicle manufacturer is to blame.