What to Do After a Car Accident Not Your Fault in California?

What to Do After a Car Accident Not Your Fault in California?
Apr 09, 2023

Car accidents are a leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths across California each year, and every car accident victim will encounter different legal challenges as they seek accountability for the accidents that have harmed them. Fault is a crucial consideration after any vehicle accident in California, as the state upholds the fault standard for resolving auto accidents. This means that the driver who caused your recent accident is liable for the damages they caused, but you must prove fault before you can recover compensation for these losses.

An experienced car accident attorney can provide invaluable guidance after any unexpected accident in California. They can:

  • Help you prove fault for the accident.
  • Gather any evidence and documentation needed to prove the full scope of your damages.
  • Help you determine the optimal path to recovery.

Most car accidents in California will require auto insurance claims, followed by personal injury claims whenever insurance alone cannot cover the damages resulting from an accident.

What to Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault in California?

The state uses a fault rule for resolving car accidents. This means that the driver who caused the collision absorbs responsibility for the resulting damages. All drivers must have auto insurance that includes property damage liability coverage and bodily injury liability coverage, and filing an insurance claim against an at-fault driver’s policy is typically an important first step in resolving a car accident case.

If you or a loved one recently experienced an accident and believe another driver is to blame, proving fault will be an essential first step in recovering your damages. An Encino auto accident attorney can assist you with all aspects of your recovery efforts, helping you gather the evidence needed to establish fault and guiding you through the insurance claim filing process and a personal injury claim if necessary for your recovery.

Important First Steps After a Car Accident in California

The first things you do following a car accident can significantly impact your recovery. Drivers are required to call 911 to report accidents resulting in property damage, injury, or death, so make sure someone has reported the crash. Wait for first responders to arrive, and do not move if you are seriously hurt; it may make your injuries worse. If you feel well enough to move around safely, do so carefully and check on the others involved in the accident. If you have time before the police arrive, take photos of the scene of the crash, the damage to your vehicle, and you and your passengers’ injuries.

The police will arrive and investigate the scene, interviewing those involved in the crash and any nearby witnesses. When they allow you to leave, you should seek medical care even if you think you only suffered minor injuries. After obtaining a medical report from your doctor and a copy of the police report for the accident, you should reach out to reliable legal counsel to help you with your recovery efforts.

Claiming Compensation for a Car Accident

Recovering from a car accident will typically start with an auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver. However, if they do not have insurance or if their policy cannot fully compensate you for your damages, you will need to file a personal injury claim. Having an experienced attorney represent you in your case will dramatically improve your chances of maximizing your recovery. Under California law, you have the right to claim full repayment of all your economic damages as well as pain and suffering compensation.

The right attorney can help recover vehicle repair or replacement costs, medical expenses, long-term treatment costs for severe injuries, lost income, and compensation for your lost earning capacity if the accident has diminished your ability to work in the future. You can also hold the defendant accountable for the pain and suffering you experienced. Ultimately, you could be entitled to claim more compensation than you might expect, and having the right attorney represent you is the optimal way to maximize your recovery.

How to Prove Liability for a Car Accident in California

Before you can claim compensation for the losses you sustained in an accident, you must prove how the accident happened and identify the driver or drivers responsible for causing it. A few of the most common causes of car accidents in California include distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. However your accident happened, you will likely need the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you assert liability and hold the at-fault driver accountable for your losses.

Most of the car accidents reported in California each year result from acts of negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care. It is also possible for intentional and illegal actions to cause serious accidents, in which case the state is likely to open a criminal case against the defendant. Your attorney can assist you in gathering cell phone records, traffic camera recordings, vehicle computer data, and eyewitness statements to help you prove fault. If the at-fault driver broke the law, your attorney can help you understand how a criminal case against the defendant may influence the outcome of your recovery efforts and the compensation you can obtain.

Comparative Fault

It’s important to remember that California enforces the pure comparative fault rule, so if you are found to have contributed to causing your accident, this will diminish your recovery. The judge who oversees the case will assign each liable party a percentage of the total fault for the resulting damages. If the plaintiff is assigned a fault percentage, this percentage is subtracted from the total compensation claimed from the defendant. For example, if you are found 10% at fault, you lose 10% of your potential case award, but if you are found 50% at fault, you lose half of the total compensation you could have recovered from the defendant.

FAQs About What to Do After a Car Accident in California

How Does Car Insurance Work When You Are Not at Fault for a Crash in California?

California upholds the fault rule for accidents, so the driver at fault absorbs liability for the damages they inflict on other drivers. When another driver causes an accident, you can file a claim against their auto insurance. If they do not have insurance, but you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage with your policy, you can file a claim against your own insurance for initial compensation.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Was Not My Fault?

It’s not strictly required to hire legal counsel after a car accident in California, but doing so dramatically improves your chances of recovering as fully as possible. Your attorney can assist you with the insurance claim filing process and, if necessary, build a personal injury claim on your behalf. You are more likely to succeed in these recovery efforts with legal counsel you can trust advising you.

How Much Compensation Can I Recover for a Car Accident in California?

You have the right to seek full repayment for all the damages you sustained in your recent accident. If you suffered injuries, you could hold the defendant accountable for all of the medical care you need to fully recover as well as the income you were unable to earn while you recovered from your injuries. You can also hold them accountable for vehicle repair costs and the pain and suffering they caused. An experienced attorney can help their client accurately calculate the full range of damages they can seek from the at-fault driver.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim for a Car Accident?

If you cannot fully recover your losses through insurance, and need to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, you must do so within two years of the accident or lose your ability to claim compensation from the defendant. While this may seem like a generous statute of limitations, the reality is that you have the greatest chance of success when you start the claim process as soon as possible after your accident.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney in California?

If you choose the Law Offices of David Davidi, APLC, to represent your car accident claim, we only take a fee if we win your case. Additionally, the fee we take is a percentage of your final case award, and you keep the rest. There is no fee if we lose for any reason, so there is no risk in choosing our firm as your legal representatives. Our goal is to help you recover as fully and quickly as possible.

How Does Insurance Work if You Aren’t to Blame?

State law requires all drivers to have liability insurance, meaning that if another driver is responsible for your recent accident, you can make a claim against their insurance, and their coverage will pay for your damages. If you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage with your own policy and the liable party has no insurance, you can claim repayment from your insurance company to recover from the accident. Car insurance follows the fault rule in the state.

Will My Insurance Increase if I am Not at Fault for an Accident?

Insurance companies price premium rates based on perceived risk. If a driver causes an accident, their insurance rate may go up because the insurer perceives them as having a greater risk of causing accidents. If you did not cause your recent accident, your insurance rate should not change. It’s a good idea to review the terms of your insurance policy so you know what factors could cause your insurance premiums to increase.

How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Car Accident Claim in California?

Your recovery from an accident is likely to require an auto insurance claim followed by a personal injury suit if insurance cannot fully compensate you for your losses. When you have experienced legal counsel representing you, it may take only a couple of weeks for you to resolve the insurance claim and receive your settlement check. If you need to file a personal injury claim, it will definitely take longer, but you can streamline your recovery by hiring an experienced car accident attorney to represent you.

Contact the Law Offices of David Davidi, APLC

The Law Offices of David Davidi, APLC, has helped many California clients recover from all types of motor vehicle accidents, and we are ready to leverage our experience on your behalf. The aftermath of any vehicle accident can be confusing and stressful, but our team has the skills and resources necessary to guide you to a favorable conclusion to your recovery efforts. Contact us today to learn how we can help you after a car accident that was not your fault.