Guide to Understanding Your Rights Following a California Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident in the state of California, it is important to understand your rights.

Unfortunately, California is one of the largest states and therefore has a significant number of car accident fatalities every year. In alone 2022, there were 159,623 car accidents in California. If you are not at fault, it is important for you to preserve and protect your right. This will help you understand how to successfully submit your claim.

california car accident
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If you contact the DMV, you can obtain an accident checklist. This is a comprehensive list of things you need to do after you have an accident.

What should you do immediately after an accident?

  • Find out if there are any injuries and call 911.
  • If no one has called the police, do so.
  • Obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of all parties involved. Also, get the license plate number and the driver’s license number.
  • Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle.
  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Per the state of California rules, any damage in excess of $70 must be reported to the DMV within 10 days.

California has minimum insurance requirements. If you live in the state, you are required to have the following:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000 per person.
  • Bodily injury liability coverage of $30,000 per accident.
  • Property damage liability coverage of $5,000.

Liability is the coverage that drivers need if they are deemed at fault. The liability coverage is for other parties that are injured and their property. It does not cover you. If you do not have the minimum coverage as required by the state of California, you may face serious repercussions. If you are at fault and have no liability coverage, you will be responsible for thousands of dollars in damages. You could also lose your driving privileges.

What are California drivers are required to report to the police?

  • If no one is injured or killed in the crash, California drivers are required to move their vehicles off the street or highway.
  • If you kill or injure an animal as a result of a crash, you are required to pull over and stop.
  • If you hit a parked vehicle, you are required by law to leave a note with your contact information. You should also contact the police or high patrol.
  • A Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR1) must be submitted to the DMV. This must be done within 10 days if the property damage is in excess of $1000, or if anyone was injured or killed.

In contrast to states that are no-fault, California is a “fault” state. The difference: PIP or personal injury insurance is required in no-fault states. If the injuries are minor, PIP insurance must be used to cover and compensate for medical bills and lost wages.

In California, PIP is not required. Victims can directly pursue a compensation claim from the negligent party. California also operates under the pure comparative negligence statute. This means even if the driver is partially at fault they can file a claim.

California statute of limitation

All California car accident victims have 2 years to file a claim. After this the statute expires and the victims loses their right to file a claim.

The statute exists to help people move their cases with a certain amount of expediency. It also ensures that information and evidence is still fresh.

If you have an accident in the state of California, there are certain laws specific to the state. They must be followed to the letter. If you have an accident, it is advisable to find a qualified car accident attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Carla Joseph is a renowned law writer who seamlessly blends her expertise in the legal field with her exceptional writing skills. With a legal degree and years of practice as a legal professional, Carla has dedicated herself to making the law accessible to a wider audience. Through her captivating articles and blog posts, she demystifies complex legal concepts and presents them in an engaging and relatable manner. Carla's unique ability to combine her legal knowledge with a compelling writing style has earned her widespread recognition and respect. Her work not only educates readers but also inspires them to engage with the law, empowering individuals with a deeper understanding of their rights and obligations.