Auto insurance is not universal and can vary from state to state. California, for instance, is what is known as a FAULT state. This means that the person’s insurance policy who is at fault will cover those who were not at fault in the accident. In addition to being a fault insurance state, there are also some insurance laws on the books in California that you must pay attention to if you are involved in an accident.
You may need to report the accident to the police department
If you are at fault in an auto accident that resulted in injuries or death, you must report the accident to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours. (note: if a police officer was on the scene, they will create and submit the proper report so in this case you would not be responsible for reporting the accident yourself)
You may need to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles
In addition to reporting the accident to the police, if the accident resulted in injury, death, and/or property damage of more than $750, the accident must also be reported to the California DMV within 10 days.
Your time to file a lawsuit may be limited
In California, a statute of limitations may apply to your accident and will designate exactly how much time you have to file a lawsuit to claim damages. If you were involved in an automobile accident that was not your fault, it is recommended that you do not wait to file a lawsuit if you wish to claim damages against the other party. This is also especially true if you are an out-of-state victim where laws may vary.
If you are partly at fault, you can only claim a portion of damages and/or expenses
California has what is known as a comparative negligence rule that pertains to automobile accidents. What this means is that if you are found to be partly at fault for an accident, then you can only claim damages or compensation that is equal to the percentage of fault by the other party. For instance, if someone hit your car, but you were exceeding the speed limit at the time, you may be found partly at fault for the accident. This is an attempt to be as fair as possible in determining a payout but because the process is not an exact science, you may wish to secure the services of an attorney who has experience in dealing with such cases in California.
You need to carry a minimum amount of automobile insurance
Another law pertaining to auto insurance in California states that you must maintain a minimum amount of insurance. This law was designed to protect others on the road in case you are at fault in an accident so that no one suffers financially due to the negligence or fault of another. The auto coverages that have minimum requirements include liability and property damage.
While the auto insurance laws in California were created to help protect each driver, an incorrect judgement or interpretation by someone else could lead to your being treated unfairly. To ensure that you are properly protected, compensated and treated fairly, it is recommended that you secure the services of an attorney if you are involved in an automobile accident in California.