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Is California a No-Fault State for Car Insurance?

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Nobody wants to get into a car accident. Not only are these incidents scary and confusing for everybody involved, but they can become incredibly costly. It is important for drivers and visitors in California to understand how the state handles auto insurance. Not all states deal with car insurance claims the same way in the aftermath of a vehicle accident. While every state has a requirement that drivers carry auto insurance, do you know whether or not California is a fault or no-fault state?

California Is Not a No-Fault State

For the purposes of car insurance, California does not follow a no-fault system.

In a no-fault state, drivers are required to maintain insurance to cover losses that they suffer during a car accident. In the aftermath of an accident, drivers turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) to get coverage for the medical costs associated with their injuries. Drivers will not file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. This system is designed to cut down on the time that it takes for a person to receive the compensation they need for their injury expenses.

In some states that have a no-fault system, drivers may be able to file a lawsuit against the responsible party if the amount of damage is severe and rises above certain thresholds.

How Does the Auto Insurance System Work in California?

California, like most other states in the country, is considered a “fault” state (also known as a tort state). In a fault state, responsibility for coverage of injuries and property damage in the aftermath of a crash falls onto the at-fault driver. The person who caused the accident will be on the line for these expenses. For example, if you are struck by a driver who runs a red light, and you sustain injuries and property damage, you (or your insurance carrier) will file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier in order to recover compensation for your expenses.

What Is the Minimum Car Insurance Requirement for California?

Every state is responsible for implementing the minimum required car insurance coverage for drivers. In California, all drivers are responsible for carrying the following:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

Drivers in California are not required to carry uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage.

What if the Minimums Are Not Enough to Cover Expenses?

If a victim sustains a serious injury in a car accident, medical expenses could quickly rise above $15,000. However, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier is only going to pay up to the policy limits. In a tort system, the injured party is allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation above the minimum insurance payout.

What if I Was Partially at Fault?

In California, there is a “pure comparative negligence” system in place. This means that even if somebody is partially at fault for their own injuries, they can still recover compensation. In California, even if a person is 99% at fault for an accident that caused their injury, they could still recover damages. In a comparative negligence system, the amount of money that a person receives in damages will be reduced based on their percentage of fault for the incident. For example, if a person is awarded $10,000 in damages for their car accident injuries, but they are found to be 20% at fault for the incident, they would only receive $8,000 in total compensation.

If you or a loved one were injured in an auto accident and are seeking compensation, get in contact with an Orange County car accident lawyer today.

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