How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in California?

May 25, 2023

Car accidents can be a frightening experience, and in the aftermath, there are many questions. Who is at fault? Was it my fault? What do I do now? It can seem overwhelming.

If you have been involved in an accident in California, it is important to understand how fault is determined. California follows a "comparative negligence" legal doctrine when assigning liability for car accidents. This means each driver involved can be given some percentage of fault for the accident.

What Is Common Law Negligence?

Determining who is at fault in a car accident can be tricky. In California, the court system largely follows common law negligence when deciding who is responsible. This means that anyone in the accident can be held liable if it is proven that they did not use reasonable care while driving.

Reasonable care means adhering to all traffic laws and ensuring safety, avoiding distractions like texting and driving, and obeying the speed limit. You may also be held accountable for anything you do that could increase the chances of an accident, like weaving between lanes.

What Are California's Accident Fault Laws?

When determining fault in a car accident, California follows comparative negligence law. This means each driver's degree of responsibility will be considered. Generally, a victim may be able to recover damages up to the degree that the other driver was negligent.

For example, suppose you have been deemed 20% responsible for an accident, and the damages totaled $100,000. In that case, you can only recover up to $80,000 as you are only allowed to collect damages in proportion to your level of fault.

How Long Do Insurance Companies Have to Determine Fault?

Insurers must determine who was at fault as quickly as possible after the incident. This does not mean they have a hard and fast timeline. They can take as long as necessary to assess the evidence and review any accident details before deciding which party should accept liability for the incident.

This process can be lengthy, especially if a lot needs to be considered or multiple people were involved in the accident.

An experienced San Diego car accident lawyer can help you navigate this process and protect your rights. If you recently sustained injuries in a car accident in California and feel overwhelmed by the legal process ahead, contact our office.

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer Today 

If you have been in a car accident and think someone else is to blame, you might be able to seek compensation for your medical costs and other expenses. However, figuring out who is at fault in an accident can be complicated. Laureti & Associates can help you determine liability and hold negligent parties responsible for their actions.

At Laureti & Associates, we will work closely with you to ensure your rights are protected, and you get the highest compensation possible. Whether filing a lawsuit, working with insurance companies, or negotiating a settlement, we will provide legal advice, representation, and guidance compassionately and attentively. Schedule a free case evaluation today.

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