If you’ve just been involved in a car accident in California and experienced injuries and/or property damage, you want to be made whole again by the person responsible for your injuries. You may be wondering how much compensation you may be entitled to or how to navigate negotiations with the insurance company.
In this article, we will explore some important elements you should know about California car accident law and how they might affect you.
1. California is an at-fault state.
If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else in California, you may be glad to learn that California is an at-fault state, which means that determining which party was negligent in causing the accident is relevant in the insurance claim process.
Other states like New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and others are no-fault states, which can make it much more complicated in some instances for car accident victims to reach full compensation in a timely manner.
As California is an at-fault state, the most important part in recovering compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and property damage is establishing the other party’s negligence.
As the claimant or plaintiff, you have the burden of proving the other party’s negligence by a preponderance of the evidence or that it is more likely than not that they negligently caused your injuries. In some limited circumstances, if you are seeking punitive damages, this standard will be higher, and you will be required to show clear and convincing evidence of the other party’s negligence.
Let’s take a closer look at the four elements of a negligence claim:
The driver had a duty to operate their motor vehicle as a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.
- The driver failed to operate their motor vehicle as a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.
- This failure was the actual cause of the accident.
- The failure resulted in damages to the claimant/plaintiff.
The evidence available in your case must be substantial enough to prove that each of the above elements are more likely than not true. If you are experiencing any difficulty in processing your claim through insurance or if there has been any question as to which party, if any, was at fault, you should consult with a California car accident attorney right away.
2. California follows a comparative negligence rule.
Under California law, you can recover damages from a party who was negligent in causing your injuries even if you were also negligent in the accident. However, the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of contribution to causing the accident. This is a legal standard called “pure comparative negligence”.
It is therefore important to not only establish the negligence of the other party, but also present a strong defense against your own contribution to causing the accident, if you are alleged to have acted negligently.
3. You must report certain car accidents to the California DMV.
If anyone involved in the motor vehicle accident was injured or killed, or if the total property damages amount to over $1,000, you must report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days after the accident.
An Advocate on Your Side
A Bay Area car accident lawyer can assist you if you have been injured in a California car accident due to the other driver’s negligence. By filing your claim with the guidance and experience of a San Francisco Bay Area personal injury attorney, you can significantly strengthen the likelihood of a positive outcome for your claim and in receiving complete compensation for your injuries and related damages.