What Are the Differences Between ‘No-Fault’ and ‘At-Fault’ States for Auto Accident Claims?

Not all states follow the same insurance policy systems when it comes to car accident claims. The primary differences are that some states follow the ‘no-fault’ system, and others follow an ‘at-fault’ understanding of the law.

An at-fault state is also sometimes referred to as a ‘tort state.’ In at-fault states, the driver deemed responsible for the accident shall be held liable for compensating any affected parties with damages for medical bills, property damage, and other expenses. Typically, the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage will cover most of the claim. A driver’s liability coverage is meant to protect them in the event that they’re responsible for an auto accident. However, if their insurance policy is insufficient to cover all damages, then injured parties may file a lawsuit to recover maximum compensation from the driver themselves.

No-fault refers to injuries suffered in car accidents. Liable parties are still responsible for property damage in no-fault states. In a no-fault state, the insurance companies and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage are responsible for taking care of the injured parties following an accident. There is no distinction made in terms of who was responsible for causing the accident when it comes to insurance companies covering medical expenses for the injured – the accident victim and the liable party are treated equally. Though, once again, this only applies to personal injuries. The at-fault driver is still held accountable for compensation for property damage, like vehicle repairs.

Is California a No-Fault or At-Fault State for Car Accident Cases?

A dozen states in the U.S. currently operate under the no-fault insurance coverage system when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. California is not one of those twelve states. At present, the twelve states that follow the no-fault system include Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

California is an at-fault state. If you were in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, then you may be entitled to pursue compensation by filing a car accident claim against the at-fault party. Before you attempt to recover financial compensation from the at-fault party themselves, you will first try to recover from their insurance provider.

How is Fault Determined?

It’s not uncommon for both drivers to point at each other and claim that the other party was responsible for the accident. It’s very rare for anyone to step up, raise their hand, and voluntarily take the blame for causing an accident (though it does happen). Thankfully, it’s not up to either driver to decide who’s at fault.

In an at-fault state, the police will investigate the accident scene and come to a determination as to who is responsible for causing the accident. They will look at the impact, the debris, tire skid marks, and video evidence (if it exists) to help them make their case. In some instances, law enforcement will also seek eyewitness testimony or the opinions of expert accident reconstructionists.

The insurance companies rely heavily on the police report of the collision. They will use police reports and other pieces of evidence to determine the percentage of fault for the crash.

It is highly advisable to seek professional legal representation to defend your interests at this time. There are several things you might accidentally say that could badly hurt your case. With a lawyer speaking for you, you may be able to avoid these slip-ups and bring your car accident case to a more satisfying conclusion.

To speak with our legal team about your case, please contact us and schedule a free consultation.

Is There a Minimum Amount of Liability Insurance That Drivers Must Carry in California?

California motorists must carry a minimum amount of car insurance in case of accidents. Liability policies help compensate injured victims of car accidents if you are to blame for the crash.

Every California driver must carry the following minimum liability insurance:

  • $5,000 for property damage.
  • $15,000 for personal injury to a single person.
  • $30,000 for bodily injury per accident.

How Does ‘Comparative Negligence’ Affect Your Car Accident Claim?

California is a ‘pure’ comparative negligence (or comparative fault) state. In comparative negligence states, both parties may be considered comparatively responsible for the accident. This means that even if you were approximately 40% responsible for the collision, you can still hope to recover a certain amount of compensation for your losses.

California allows the liable party to claim comparative negligence as a defense. If successful, this defense may reduce their financial exposure, as it claims that the other driver was at least partially responsible for the accident and the resulting damages.

The amount of negligence for either party is decided by the insurance companies, judges, and juries overseeing car accident cases. The sooner you speak with a car accident attorney, the better.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation

If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s vital that you seek proper legal guidance. Failure to hire a personal injury lawyer may result in you recovering less in terms of compensation, or worse, you may find that you’re being blamed for the accident instead of the true at-fault party.

The Law Office of Daniel Deng has years of experience representing accident victims across the state of California. We will aggressively seek the maximum compensation for your car accident claims in an attempt to get you the justice you rightly deserve.

To schedule your free initial consultation today, call 626-280-6000 or contact us online.