Every state has laws that determine where you will file your insurance claim after a car accident and whether you will be eligible to bring a lawsuit against the other individual(s) involved in the crash. Based on whether a state’s laws require you to prove fault to collect compensation, it is designated as either a no-fault or an at-fault insurance state. California is one of 38 at-fault states, meaning that correctly identifying and proving who was fully or partially at fault for the accident is crucial to your ability to recover damages.

What Are the Differences Between a No-Fault and an At-Fault Insurance State?

In a no-fault insurance state, every resident must carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance. This is because each person involved in an accident will file a claim with their own insurance for their injuries. This system keeps most claims out of the courts and reduces the time and expense spent on litigation. However, car insurance premiums are often high, and coverage for property damage is extra. Individuals in many no-fault states also cannot sue for medical expenses exceeding their coverage limits unless they meet the state’s threshold for a catastrophic injury.

In an at-fault insurance state such as California, every accident must be carefully investigated, and liability apportioned to each party involved. The parties can then file a claim with the insurance of the at-fault individual(s). The downside of an at-fault state is that determining liability can be a long and challenging process, especially because insurance companies will often try to shift blame away from their client. However, if you disagree with the insurance payout or the at-fault individual did not have coverage, you have the right to bring a lawsuit for damages.

How Do California’s Comparative Negligence Laws Impact Your Claim?

Most car accident cases are not straightforward incidents where 100% of the blame can be placed on one person. Instead, both parties involved usually share some portion of the responsibility. When this happens, California’s pure comparative negligence laws come into play.

Under pure comparative negligence, an individual can seek compensation as long as they are not found to be entirely at fault for the accident. However, any damages they are awarded will be reduced in proportion to their liability. For example, if someone is found to be 40% at fault for an accident and has $100,000 in damages for medical expenses, their compensation would be reduced by 40% ($40,000), and they would only receive $60,000.

When Should You Reach Out to a Car Accident Attorney?

Because California’s at-fault insurance laws make it so critical to correctly determine who was responsible for a crash, it is crucial to enlist the services of an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. We will meticulously investigate your case and collect the evidence required to build a strong insurance claim. Do not allow the insurance company to place undue blame on you for a life-altering crash. Call (949) 749-7402 to schedule a free case evaluation and learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.