Understanding Car Accident Laws in Los Angeles

It’s easy to feel confused and not be sure of what to do after a car accident in Los Angeles. However, understanding the rules here will help you protect your legal rights in the aftermath.

You’ll soon find that there are many intricacies in car accident laws in the state. Here’s a rundown of the most important things to be aware of when you’ve been in a wreck.

car accident laws in los angeles
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Mandatory Requirements for Reporting and Insurance

If you are in a car accident in Los Angeles, you are legally obligated to report it to the police under certain circumstances. You must contact the police if there are any injuries — whether they are your own or for another person — fatalities, or damage to vehicles or surrounding property that exceeds $1,000.

You may be relieved if no one seems injured, however, it might be hard to discern whether or not the vehicles have incurred over $1,000 of damage. In this instance, err on the side of caution and call the police. Doing so will also give you a valuable piece of evidence you can use when pursuing compensation.

As for insurance, all Los Angeles drivers must carry the minimum amount of liability insurance. This is $15,000 for injury or death to one person, $30,000 for more than one person, and $5,000 for property damages. Failing to have the minimum insurance requirements for the state could result in paying fines or having your vehicle impounded.

Comparative Negligence May Mean You Share Fault

Los Angeles drivers are also under the scrutiny of comparative negligence. With this system, the liability of each party is assessed and they are assigned a percentage of fault. In other words, if you were partly at fault for the accident, you can still recover compensation — though it will be reduced by your own percentage of fault.

How Liability Is Determined

If you want to recover compensation from the other driver, you need to establish that they were liable or at fault. For a personal injury claim to be valid, negligence must be a factor. The courts will look at whether the other driver violated traffic laws, engaged in reckless driving behaviors, drove under the influence, or failed to properly maintain the vehicle in roadworthy condition.

Having a police report filed is one of the best ways to create evidence of the other driver’s liability. In this report, the responding police officer will make observations as well as speak with all involved parties and witnesses. They often draw diagrams of the scene. All of these things can help you prove that the other driver was at fault.

Remember, since California is a state that runs on pure comparative negligence, if you are assigned any fault in the incident, you will receive less money for compensation. Insurers often try to point the finger to avoid having to pay the full amount — but now that you know this part of the law, you can preserve evidence to avoid being blamed.

Time Limits to Follow for Filing Your Car Accident Claim

If you are in a car accident in Los Angeles, you need to be mindful of the statute of limitations. This means you have to file your lawsuit within that time period or you will not be able to seek compensation. In this state, you will have two years to get your paperwork filed.

Many attorneys advise against waiting too long though as key evidence can disappear in that time. Witnesses may become unavailable the longer you let time go by, too. The best way to make sure you understand and follow all car accident laws in Los Angeles is by contacting a car accident attorney in Northridge to discuss your case.

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.