Driving in California can be risky. You have an array of drivers on the road, from experienced local drivers to new drivers and tourists trying to navigate the highways and streets. Whenever you’re in a vehicle, there’s a slight chance of being involved in a traffic accident. Whether you’re involved in a fender bender or a severe accident, you should know how fault is determined in California car accidents.
California’s auto accident laws are slightly different than other state laws. California bases its auto insurance claims on who’s responsible for the accident—however, there are two ways to determine who’s at fault. In this article, we will explain who decides who’s at fault, how to determine who’s responsible, and what happens when both drivers are to blame.
Who Determines Fault in a Car Accident?
In California, determining who’s at fault depends on when the resolution is reached. Insurance companies typically work with the police and driver involved and reach a conclusion when evidence is gathered. However, if one party believes the final decision is wrong, they can contest it through a lawsuit—but the insurance company’s fault determination rules may block the case. A judge and jury will have the final say if the lawsuit goes to court.
Sometimes investigators can help determine who’s responsible for the auto accident by the location of the damage on the car. For example, if someone ran a stop sign and got in a T-bone accident, the fault will lie with the damaged vehicle in the front. It’s also important to note that responsibility can be shared in California and ultimately make a driver negligent. If you’re in an accident, it’s essential to tell the truth instead of lying to get a favorable result; it could result in insurance fraud.
Points will be added to your license if found at fault in California. However, the other driver’s insurance should cover your damages and injuries if you're not at fault.
How To Determine Who’s at Fault
In California, there are two methods to determine who is at fault in auto accidents: proving negligence and showing violation of a statute. To show that a driver is at fault, proving negligence, the injured party must show that the other party didn’t drive with care. They can demonstrate this with police reports, witness statements, footage, and other evidence that can prove their point. The injured driver must prove that because of the other driver’s negligence, they ended up with property damage and injuries.
The second way California determines who’s at fault is by proving a violation of a statute. Suppose the driver at fault violated the California Vehicle Code or another law. This method is more straightforward in establishing negligence because the police report will likely state whether the driver violated the code.
Determining Who Was at Fault Proving Negligence
To show that someone is at fault for an auto accident in California, the injured party must show that the other driver was careless when operating their vehicle and not upholding their duty as a driver in California. The standard drivers must sustain the “reasonable person” standard. In other words, every driver on the road must drive their vehicle with care and sensible caution.
Injured individuals in car accidents in California also must show that the other driver did not uphold the “reasonable person” standard or prove they were driving carelessly. The injured party must also prove the other party’s negligence was the primary cause of the accident and that there are property damages and injuries that resulted from the accident.
If the injured driver proves that the other driver was carelessly driving, causing injuries and property damage, the injured party will be entitled to compensation.
Determining Who’s at Fault Showing Statutory Negligence
Another common way fault is determined in California car accidents is to determine whether either party violated California traffic laws. Suppose a driver infringes a rule on the California Vehicle Code that results in an accident. In that case, the driver will be considered “negligent per se” because they failed to operate their vehicle with care and proper caution.
Showing that a driver violated the California Vehicle Code is relatively easy because the statutes in the Vehicle Code were presented to prevent car accidents and reduce injuries. Suppose a driver involved in an auto accident is presumed negligent but disagrees. In that case, they must prove that they weren’t driving carelessly, or they will be held responsible for the content and face the consequences.
What If Both Drivers Are at Fault?
Under California law, all drivers in an auto accident may be responsible for the damages or injuries resulting from an accident, known as comparative negligence. If an injured party contributes to the auto accident by negligence, their compensation may be reduced. For example, if an injured party has over $60,000 in hospital bills and pain and suffering but was determined to be 20 percent at fault, they will receive only $48,000 in damages. Pure negligence in California works by providing each party with a certain percentage of injuries and then reducing the compensation for damages by that percentage.
When you’re driving—whether on city streets or major highways—it’s essential to stay alert and uphold safe driving standards to prevent auto accidents and the paperwork afterward. However, if you were in a car accident and injuries are involved, you need to contact a California lawyer to help you sort through who’s at fault and get your auto insurance company to file a claim. During this time, you must carefully read police reports and stay in contact with your lawyer and insurance company to ensure that you’re being rightfully compensated.
Driving in California has its risks, but you don’t want to go anywhere without car insurance. Saferoad Insurance Services offers affordable auto insurance in California to ensure that, if you are in an auto accident, you are protected financially and won’t have to worry about being adequately compensated for damages and suffering. Contact us today for any additional questions or to receive a quote. And remember to drive safely!