You’ve been injured in a car accident in California. The other driver caused the crash. Now what? There’s a lot to understand, think about, and act on, but one thing to remember is that California is a tort or “fault” state when it comes to auto insurance.
You might have heard these terms before, but if you’ve never had to deal with an accident claim, you might not have given them much thought. What do they mean?
Tort (Fault) vs. No-Fault
About one quarter of US states have adopted what is known as a “no-fault” insurance system (California is not one of them). In these states, a system is in place to make sure that most car accident injury claims are handled without the need for lawsuits. The idea behind these systems was to take the burden of these suits out of the courts, to save everyone time and money. No-fault systems also make sure that those with serious injuries receive appropriate compensation.
The rest of the states (including California) still rely on a system that, by default, does nothing when someone is injured in a crash. If a victim wants to recover damages for his or her injuries—medical expenses, lost wages and income, rehabilitation costs, and so on—he or she needs to file a civil lawsuit (a tort) against the person who caused the accident.
What Insurance Is Required?
While California is not a no-fault state, there is still a state requirement that every driver have liability insurance. A driver needs $15,000/$30,000 coverage for death and bodily injury (the separate numbers are for a single victim and multiple victims). A driver also must have at least $5,000 in property damage coverage.
These are minimums, and a driver can carry much more insurance than this. But drivers must meet the minimums: If a driver is caught without insurance, he or she will be fined at least $100 (and it could be more). If lack of insurance is discovered at the scene of an accident, the penalties will be much stiffer: A driver could have his or her vehicle impounded and license suspended with much higher fines.
Who Do You Sue?
Since no action will happen unless you make it happen, you have to sue the driver who hit you. Your insurance company might help, but their interest is usually limited to the amount that driver is insured for.
Your injuries might be much more serious, however, and recovering the true costs associated with them may require a personal injury lawsuit. That’s where an experienced accident attorney comes in. They’ll gather evidence, develop a solid demand letter, and follow through on whatever legal filings need to be made to ensure that your claim has the best chance of succeeding. They’ll deal with the other driver’s insurance company, its investigators, and its experts.
You could do all this yourself, but bringing in an attorney is usually a much better idea. They have experience and expertise that you don’t, but—more importantly—pursuing your claim will be the lawyer’s job while you get on with the other things your life demands.
Orange County Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been the victim of a car crash, Dickson Kohan & Bablove, LLP can help you with the many details involved in your automobile accident case (such as the statute of limitations). Give us a call today at 1-844-404-2400 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.