Legal Issues after a California Car Accident

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Once things settle down, you need be aware of the legal issues after a California car accident.  Legal issues involve questions of who, or what, is to blame for the accident, any resulting injuries as well as property damage. 


Sometimes drivers and passengers are injured and need immediate medical attention. Sometimes though, a person may not have symptoms of pain or injury until hours or even days after an accident.  It is important to ask the other driver and passengers how they feel and where they feel any discomfort.  For this same reason, it is important to collect the other driver’s name, address and insurance information.  Even if everyone says they are fine, and there is minimal or no property damage, you may find out later that someone is making a claim for an injury—or you may have a claim and you will need to know how to contact the other driver.

Damage to Vehicles

Damage to vehicles is another issue and generally each driver knows right after the accident whether there is damage to the vehicle. It is important to remember though that a person can be seriously injured even when there is minimal vehicle damage.  It is important to call the police and get a police report following an accident.  A police report will protect you later if the other driver changes his story or if you need to file a car accident lawsuit.  The police report may be the only evidence in a case where each driver has a different version of how the accident occurred.

Fault, Negligence and Liability

California is a comparative negligence state which means that courts may consider how much one driver is at fault rather than assuming one driver was entirely at fault. It is common for two drivers to be at fault in a car accident, for example: one driver may be driving too fast and another driver may not make a proper look out before turning in front of the car traveling too fast.  In that situation, both drivers are at fault in some percentage.  A court or jury will determine how much each person was at fault and that will determine how much each driver will be responsible for paying the damage or injuries resulting from the accident.

Insurance Coverage Issues

California requires drivers to carry auto insurance to cover the costs of injuries to other parties or to damage to other vehicles or property.  California does not require drivers to carry insurance to cover their own injuries or their own property damage.  The goal of the law is to ensure that drivers will cover any damage they cause while driving.  The minimum liability insurance which people must carry is $15,000.00 for bodily injury to one person ($30,000.00 for two or more people) and $5,000.00 for property/vehicle damage.  Any medical bills or repair costs which cost more than a driver’s insurance limits will become the responsibility of the driver to pay.

Get Legal Advice

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you fully understand your rights and responsibilities following a car accident.  It is important to contact an attorney as soon after the accident as possible in order to preserve your rights and the evidence.