Car Accident Claims: Determining Fault in a California Car Crash

California is no stranger to car accidents. Just last year, there were 3,540 vehicle-motor deaths recorded. The majority of these deaths involved passenger cars. The high number of car accident cases also resulted in a lot of compensation claims.

California adheres to the at-fault insurance system in determining who will pay for the accident compensation. Thus, courts must determine fault for compensation. That way, victims will get the proper reimbursement for damages they’ve sustained from the car accident.

California as an At-Fault State

Since California adheres to the at-fault insurance system, this means that the one who was at fault for the accident will have to pay for the victim’s compensation claims. The amount of compensation is determined after taking into consideration the extent of the damage, the extent of negligence of the at-fault party, and the extent of the participation of the victims in the car crash.

The insurance company of the at-fault driver, or the person who caused it, will cover for the compensation. However, if the victim does not agree with the amount offered by the insurance company, they can file a lawsuit for personal injury claims for the uncompensated damages.

The Auto Insurance Laws of California require car owners to carry a minimum amount of car insurance coverage, that is, drivers must have a minimum coverage of $5,000 for property damage and $15,000 in bodily injury per person. Accidents that involve more than one person will equate to $30,000 in charges.

After an accident, the parties involved must report the incident to the police and seek medical attention if necessary. Finding witnesses will also help you later in your claim since they can account for the incident. It is also vital to get the driver’s information and insurance policy, which you could also find on the police report.

It is recommended the injured party should file a claim against the at-fault party and not on their own insurance companies. You can also hire the services of a car accident lawyer to assist you in with your claim. Lawyers can guide you through the claim procedures and can better negotiate the outcome.

Who Determines Fault

The insurance companies for the parties involved determine who was at-fault. The insurance adjusters will take the statement of the parties involved in the accident, they will also review medical bills, review the police report, and any other type of records that relates to the accident. The pieces of evidence reviewed will help determine who was at fault in the accident

Proving Negligence

If you are involved in an accident, that makes it a personal injury claim. In order to legally prove a claim, you need to prove the other person was negligent. Being negligent means the other party had a duty to act in a reasonable matter and failed to do so.

The claiming party must show that the at-fault driver failed to operate their vehicle appropriately to prove negligence. The standard of care that a driver must perform while operating a vehicle is the “reasonable person” standard. Every driver must have a reasonable amount of caution when driving a vehicle.

The elements to determine negligence are as follows:

  1. The driver has the duty to operate the vehicle safely.
  2. The driver breached such duty.
  3. The actions of the driver caused the accident.
  4. The accident directly caused losses and damages.

The common examples of negligence are the following:

● Texting and other forms of distracted driving

● Driving while tired or fatigued

● Driving aggressively

● Failure to maintain the vehicle

● Failing to signal

● Tailgating

Proving Violation of Rules or Laws

Another way of determining fault is to know whether or not there was a violation of law or rule in driving or not. If the driver violates any provision in the California Vehicle Code, he or she is presumed to be at fault.

It is easier to show fault if there was a violation of traffic laws and rules. Examples of violations are driving under the influence, beating the red light, and speeding.

Comparative Negligence

California judges often adjust the amount of compensation by comparing the amount of the fault on both parties. This happens when evidence shows that the victim may also have contributed to the accident. If the injured party also took part in the cause of the accident, the amount of proceeds from the claim someone may receive will be affected.

For example, if the injured party contributed 20% to the accident, they may only claim 80% of the compensation claim.


Some car accidents are minor enough that you might opt-out from hiring a lawyer. However, if you are involved in a car accident and sustained injuries, the best thing you can do is to hire a personal injury attorney to expedite your claim. Also, don’t forget to keep a copy of every important document to help you prove your case.

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