Getting into a car accident is already an incredibly scary situation. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to point fingers and play the blame game. However, you will want to make sure you don’t start doing that until you have proper representation and authorities involved.
Not only are there legal complications that could arise if the claimant goes about it the wrong way, but you also may not be entitled to receiving any compensation for medical bills or car repairs that might need to be done
If you have found yourself in a car accident and are looking for information on determining who is at fault, here is what you need to know about the state of California.
California is what is known as an at-fault state. This means the person who ends up being declared at fault for the accident is the one who has to pay for the victim’s claims for compensation through their insurance.
Determining fault should not be something that is done by either party in the accident. This is when it can get pretty messy with the insurance companies. Ultimately, it’s up to the insurance companies of the parties involved to be the deciding factor of who is at fault.
If there is a discrepancy amongst the people involved in the car accident, the court of California will then be in charge of deciding who is at fault. This is why it’s essential that you hire a personal injury or car accident lawyer to help properly facilitate the ultimate determination of who is at fault. This way, you can ensure you are receiving the most compensation.
In order to own and operate a vehicle in California, the driver must have a minimum car insurance coverage of $5,000 for property damage and $15,000 in bodily injury per person involved in an accident.
Proof of insurance is required in the vehicle at all times. Many insurance companies, such as Geico and Liberty Mutual, have digital insurance cards available through their mobile apps. That way, you don’t have to wait for a paper copy to be sent to your mailing address.
How Fault Is Determined
When the insurance companies are working to determine fault, they will take into consideration many different factors. They will look at accident reports taken by the police who were at the scene of the incident, as well as review any medical bills and other evidence the claimants provide.
This is why it is extremely important for anyone involved in an accident to document as much as possible when it happens. Videos and photos of the vehicles and property on which the accident took place can be incredibly helpful. If there are witnesses around, getting statements from them to provide in the police report as well as the insurance companies will only help your case.
Another factor involved with any car accident is proof of negligence. This is when someone failed to act in a reasonable manner, which resulted in the accident itself. The person who is filing the claim against the other must show that they have been negligent as a driver in order to successfully have their claim go through.
According to The San Francisco Examiner, the elements to prove negligence are:
- The driver has the duty to operate the vehicle safely.
- The driver breached such duty.
- The actions of the driver caused the accident.
- The accident directly caused losses and damages.
For example, if you have proof that the driver was driving under the influence through a breathalyzer test done by the police, that is a way to show that negligence did occur. Other examples include texting and driving, failing to signal, or driving aggressively by speeding.
Determining who is at fault in a car accident in the state of California is not a black or white situation. While it may seem that way to the drivers involved, the insurance companies or the court will need various degrees of proof. Make sure to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you have found yourself in the unfortunate situation of a car accident before trying to settle the case on your own.