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Is California a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Steven R. Andrade Dec. 28, 2016

Some states require drivers to have no-fault insurance that pays for damages and injuries after a car accident regardless of who was at fault. No-fault insurance, also known as Personal Injury Protection, covers expenses up to the policy limits.

California, on the other hand, is a financial responsibility state. Drivers are legally required to carry auto liability insurance and must pay for any damages they cause in a crash. It is against the law in California to drive without insurance. You must carry proof of financial responsibility in your car, van or pickup truck.

Knowing what to do after a car accident starts with knowing your state's car insurance requirements. If you are involved in a car accident caused by another driver in Santa Barbara or anywhere in Southern California, contact the legal team at Andrade Law Offices for a free consultation about your legal options and how to seek compensation for your injuries.

Who Pays for Injuries After a Crash?

In a no-fault car insurance state, each driver turns first to their own policy for compensation after a crash; this compensation is gained through the policyholder's no-fault, or personal injury protection (PIP), coverage.

When an accident occurs in California, the drivers involved file an accident claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company that provides the bodily injury or property damage liability coverage. If you are to blame for the accident, then your own liability policy will pay the other driver for bodily injury and property damage.

The insurance company representing the at-fault driver may try to minimize your injuries or offer a small settlement that does not cover all your expenses. Insurance companies increase their profits by keeping the payouts they make to a minimum. An insurance adjuster may try to undermine your claim by trying to shift the fault of the accident to you. You may need the help of a knowledgeable California car accident attorney who has experience negotiating with insurance companies to advocate on your behalf.

Can I File a Lawsuit?

One of the primary differences between the laws in states that have at-fault and no-fault car insurance states is that in no-fault states, you are typically barred from filing a claim against another driver unless your damages exceed a certain amount.

In California, after a crash, you are permitted to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance for your injuries and damage to your vehicle. (see: The State Bar of California – What Should I Do If I Have an Auto Accident).

Proving Fault

California accident laws allow people who are injured as a result of another driver's carelessness or disregard for safety to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the full extent of your damages. In order to do so, the claimant must prove fault.

Establishing fault is one of the most challenging parts of a car accident claim, and requires investigating the accident thoroughly. In more complex accident cases, a skilled attorney may use accident reconstruction experts to analyze the facts of the accident and provide testimony regarding the cause of a crash.

If you need assistance in understanding California's accident laws after you have been injured in a crash or are having difficulty dealing with another driver's insurance company, please contact the legal team at Andrade Law Offices today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are ready to help you!