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Understanding California’s Auto Accident Law

When you are in an auto accident in California, you need to know your rights and responsibilities. In a single recent year, there were 37,461 fatalities in the United States after a car accident. In Los Angeles County alone, the LAPD says there were 54,000 collisions in 2019 and 236 fatalities.

We’ve provided this quick review on understanding California’s auto accident law in case a crash happens to you.

What are Minimum Insurance Requirements?

To drive in California, you are required to have insurance. The minimum liability insurance requirements are as follows:

  • $15,000 personal injury and/or death liability for one person
  • $30,000 personal injury and/or death liability for more than one person
  • $5,000 property damage liability

Car insurance follows the car and not the driver in California. Liability insurance on your vehicle will compensate for another party that is not the policyholder for damage or personal injury damages in the event of an auto accident. Collision and comprehensive insurance are optional in California. Having the minimum amount of mandatory insurance may not be enough if you are in an auto accident.

Do I Need to Report the Accident to Police?

You do need to report the auto accident to the police or California Highway Patrol in most cases. If the collision is minor and sustains less than $1,000 damage, you may not have to.

But even the smallest fender bender can lead to a car write-off by your insurance company. It’s never a bad idea to report a collision to the police, mainly if you think you will be pursuing damages legally. You have 24 hours to make a report to the California Highway Patrol. Someone else may do that for you if you are unable after being hurt in a car.

Move your car off the road if you can and call the police. You will save a lot of time and grief down the road with a police report in the file.

What At-Fault and Pure Comparative Negligence Mean for You

California is an at-fault state and is also a pure comparative negligence state. This means that other drivers in the collision may be required to take responsibility if they caused the crash.

At-fault law in California means that the party at fault for the accident will be the one responsible for the losses of other injured parties. At-fault law is another reason why reporting the accident as soon as possible helps you down the road.

Pure comparative negligence means that most parties will be compensated by insurance after a collision. Still, the amount you recover will be decreased by a certain percentage if you are partially at fault.

Say, for example, the police consider you to be 20 percent responsible for the crash. Maybe you were speeding or didn’t check your blind spot. The pure comparative negligence rule will dictate that you then will recover 80 percent of the total compensation for your losses.

After you report the auto accident, call an El Monte car accident attorney to help you navigate the rest of the process. There can be many complex auto accident laws and legal questions involved, and the right legal assistance can help you protect your rights to compensation.