Experienced Attorneys Advise on California At-Fault Insurance Laws
Firm pursues recovery for victims of auto accidents statewide
Before you drive a car in California, you should familiarize yourself with the state’s auto insurance laws. There are rules governing every car owner, as well as required procedures for when an accident occurs. You also want to understand how the claim process works in the event of a crash, and how contacting an attorney immediately can help you recover damages more quickly and efficiently. California is an at-fault insurance state, so there are points you have to prove, such as negligence and causation, before you can recover compensation. At Mastagni Holstedt, APC, our auto accident attorneys are ready to help. We provide highly professional representation focused on delivering optimal results.
California requirements for automobile insurance
Unlike no-fault jurisdictions where most car accident claims are covered by a driver’s own carrier, California auto accident victims can seek damages from a negligent driver who caused the crash. To make the system work, the state requires car owners to self-insure for $35,000, or carry liability insurance in at least the following amounts:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
Drivers are required to show proof of insurance when:
- A law enforcement officer requests to see it
- A car owner renews their vehicle registration
- The vehicle is involved in a collision
If an accident occurs, the drivers involved must exchange identifying contact and insurance information. You can then file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
Determining fault in a California traffic accident
After you file your claim, the insurance company is required to conduct an investigation to determine fault. Information the insurer will likely consider includes the following:
- Police accident report
- Statements from parties and witnesses
- Physical evidence, such as vehicle damage
- Accident reconstruction reports
The insurer will also examine medical records of injured parties, but only to determine the amount of damages, not to assess fault for the accident.
Although a police report is not necessarily the final word, a report that supports your claim can be very persuasive. It’s important to call 911 at the time of the accident and request police assistance. When they arrive, make sure to ask how you can obtain a copy of the report.
If the other driver’s insurance company disagrees about who caused the crash, you might have to file a lawsuit to recover damages. But even if the insurer admits their insured is responsible, you might still have to fight for get a reasonable settlement, because the carrier might challenge the amount of damages you’ve incurred.
Guarding against California’s comparative negligence law
Often, fault for an accident is not clear cut, and the facts might indicate that both drivers were somewhat to blame. Under California’s comparative negligence law, you can still collect damages even if you bear partial responsibility for the crash. However, your recovery is reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
For example, if you sustained $100,000 in damages but a court decides you were 20 percent at fault, you could only recover $80,000 in damages. As your advocates, our attorneys protect you from unwarranted allegations regarding your liability, so you can claim the full compensation you deserve.
Contact a knowledgeable California auto accident attorney for a free consultation
Mastagni Holstedt, APC helps injured clients prove negligence in fault-based insurance claims following auto accidents. To schedule a free consultation, call or contact us online. We have offices in Sacramento, Rancho Cucamonga, Pleasanton and Redwood City.
Our auto accident lawyers take all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no legal fees unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.