If you were recently in an accident or recently had to purchase car insurance, you may be wondering, “Is California a no-fault state?” The answer is no: California is not a no-fault car insurance state.
What exactly does that mean, though? Each state is different when it comes to car insurance. For the average person, it can be hard to keep track of what your insurance actually means and what it covers.
Whether a state is a fault state or no-fault state can make a big difference for any financial recovery if you find yourself in a car accident, as well as who provides it.
Here, we’ll discuss what fault and no-fault mean for car insurance, and how that relates to you as a California resident.
What Does A “No-fault” System Mean?
A “no-fault” system means that if you are injured in a car accident, your insurance should provide you financial compensation, regardless of who is at fault.
It doesn’t always mean that you will get the coverage you need. However, it does mean the insurance companies don’t need to know who was at fault to payout according to your specific policy.
In a no-fault system, you’re responsible for ensuring that all of your bills and expenses get covered. Usually, in no-fault states, a certain level of personal injury protection (PIP) is required by state law.
As mentioned above, California is not a no-fault state for auto accidents.
What Does A “Fault” System Mean?
A fault system is just the opposite. In a state that uses a fault, or at-fault, system, you would file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
In this type of system, the question of who was at fault becomes critical. In a fault system, you don’t want to try to handle the insurance companies on your own.
It’s a good idea to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident to help you get the most compensation you can.
If you have been wondering, “Is California a no-fault state,” it may be because insurance can be confusing. It’s different wherever you are.
An attorney in a fault state who has handled car accident cases before knows how to investigate to look for the other party’s fault, as well as how to handle the insurance companies.
California Insurance Requirements
In California, all drivers must have a certain level of car insurance coverage. Drivers may have more coverage than the amounts listed below, but they cannot have less.
The minimum required amounts are:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death for persons not at-fault
- $5,000 in property damage
- $30,000 for accidents that involve two or more people
If you get into a car accident with a driver who only has the minimum coverage amounts, and your damages exceed these amounts, you may need to seek compensation another way.
It’s vital for all drivers in the state of California to have comprehensive coverage for their car insurance, including underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage.
These are add-ons that you can purchase from your own insurance company that will help cover you in case you sustain damages because of an underinsured or uninsured motorist.
What if I Was Partially At Fault?
California uses a system called pure comparative negligence. This means that the percentage of your recovery can be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault in the accident. If you were at fault for 15% of the accident, you could still recover 85% of the compensation available.
The comparative negligence system can be difficult to understand, which is why it’s important you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
How Can I Prove Fault After a Car Accident?
Car insurance claims are generally based on proving negligence. Negligence has four elements:
- The driver who hit you owed you a duty of care (all drivers owe other drivers on the road a duty of care);
- The driver breached the duty of care (this is usually apparent if they were breaking the law at the time of the accident);
- Because the driver breached the duty of care, you sustained an injury; and
- You suffered damages because of your injury.
Beware of Dealing With Insurance Companies on Your Own
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Although we may wish to think that they are there to protect us, the truth is they are there to make money.
The insurance company will be looking to pay you out as little as possible from your accident. They will look for any excuse. That’s why it’s not a good idea to handle the insurance companies alone. Instead, contact a lawyer experienced in car accidents as soon as you can.
Call AR | Legal Team for Help With Your Car Accident Claim
If you’ve had difficulty dealing with the insurance companies, or need any assistance obtaining financial recovery, call AR | Legal Team for a free consultation.
We take our cases on a contingency basis, so we don’t get paid unless you do. We fight hard to ensure all of our clients receive what they deserve. Contact the attorneys at AR | Legal Team to learn more.