Is California an “at-fault” auto insurance state or a “no-fault” state? How does at-fault auto insurance differ from no-fault insurance? If a traffic accident happens and you’re injured, when should you reach out for legal assistance from an Orange County auto accident lawyer?
If you will keep reading this introduction to auto insurance in California and the rights of those injured by negligent motorists, you will find the answers to those questions, and you’ll also learn these answers:
- How much auto insurance is a California driver required to carry?
- What are your rights if you’re injured by a negligent California driver?
- How do you win compensation for your medical costs if a negligent driver injures you?
What Insurance is Required for California Drivers?
California law requires motorists to carry the following minimum auto insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability: $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident minimum
- Property damage liability: $5,000 minimum
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident minimum
Every driver’s insurance needs are different, but if you are at-fault for an accident in California, you will be accountable personally for any amount that surpasses your coverage limit, so purchasing additional coverage can protect your assets and savings after an accident.
How Are No-Fault and At-Fault Insurance Different?
In a no-fault auto insurance state, the drivers in an accident seek compensation for their damages from their own insurance providers, regardless of who was at fault. No-fault policyholders aren’t required to prove someone else’s negligence or fault in order to receive a payout after a collision.
The only time a traffic accident injury victim in a no-fault auto insurance state may bring a lawsuit against an at-fault driver is when his or her injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold and his or her damages surpass the limits of the no-fault insurance coverage.
But in California and the other at-fault auto insurance states, an injured accident victim may only be compensated after filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. This means a victim must identify the at-fault driver, and if necessary, prove that driver was in fact at-fault.
Who Caused the Accident?
In many California traffic accident cases, assigning liability requires a careful examination of the events that led to the accident. Before an injury victim may seek compensation, fault must be assigned and liable parties must be identified.
If you’re injured in a traffic accident and you believe that the other driver was at-fault, arrange to discuss the case as quickly as possible with an Orange County personal injury attorney. Your attorney will investigate the accident and determine which driver or drivers have liability.
What Steps Should You Take After A Traffic Accident?
A Southern California auto accident attorney will not be on the scene of an accident to give you legal advice, so if you are involved in a traffic collision in California, take these measures to protect yourself legally and to safeguard your health:
- Call for medical help – this is the first priority after an accident – and then call the local police. You will need a hard copy of the written police accident report if you decide later to file a personal injury claim.
- Take plenty of photos of the accident scene, the vehicle damages, and your own visible injuries. If there were eyewitnesses, ask for their names and personal contact details. Eyewitness statements and photos often make the difference in personal injury cases.
- If you are not treated at the scene or taken to an emergency room, have a medical exam at once – within 24 hours if possible. That exam should uncover any latent or hard-to-detect injury, and without it, you may not be able to tie your injury to that specific accident.
- After you’ve been examined and treated, schedule a consultation as quickly as possible with an Orange County auto accident lawyer to discuss your legal options and your right to compensation.
What Will an Accident Attorney Do for You?
Your lawyer will explain your legal rights and options and recommend the best way to move forward – which may be by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
When you are represented and advised by a California auto accident attorney, your attorney will review the case to determine how the accident happened, which motorist was at-fault, and what other person or persons may have a share of the liability.
How Will Your Personal Injury Claim Be Resolved?
Your lawyer will negotiate with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company for a fair and reasonable settlement. Most injury cases arising from vehicle collisions are settled when the lawyers for each side reach a private, out-of-court agreement.
Your injury case will go to court only if liability for the accident is in dispute or if no acceptable settlement offer is forthcoming in the out-of-court negotiations. At trial, your attorney will tell the jury how your injury happened and will ask the jurors to order the payment of your damages.
When Should You Call a Personal Injury Attorney?
Act at once if you’re injured by a negligent motorist in a Southern California car accident. The statute of limitations sets a two-year deadline for taking action. There are several exceptions, however, so if you’ve missed that deadline, an attorney can determine if your case still qualifies.
But if you have been injured recently, speak to a lawyer at once. In the best scenario, your lawyer will review the evidence before it deteriorates – or disappears entirely – and your lawyer will question any witnesses before their recollections begin to fade.
Yes, You Can Afford an Attorney
If you’re injured and you cannot work, your medical bills may already be piling up next to your regular monthly obligations, and you need compensation as quickly as possible. But if you’re unable to work, how can you retain the legal services of a California personal injury lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers in Southern California work on a contingent fee basis. Your first consultation is offered with no obligation or cost, and if you move forward with an injury claim, you’ll pay no lawyer’s fee until and unless your lawyer recovers compensation on your behalf.
The injured victims of negligent drivers in California are entitled by law to compensation for their current and projected future medical expenses, their current and projected future lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and related losses.
If you have been injured in this way, or if you are injured by a negligent driver in the future, make the call to an Orange County personal injury attorney at once, and put the law to work for you.