California is an at-fault state for car accidents. Therefore, if you are responsible for a car accident in Los Angeles, you could be financially liable for the damages caused by the wreck. Knowing what happens when you are at fault and what to do after a car crash is critical.
California Requires Liability Insurance for Drivers
California requires that drivers prove financial responsibility in case they cause an accident. Most people purchase car insurance to satisfy the requirement.
- $15,000 for the death or injury of one person
- $30,000 for the deaths or injury to two or more people per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
Insurance companies must report insurance information to the DMV. If the California Department of Vehicles (DMV) does not receive proof of insurance, it suspends the vehicle registration.
It can be wise to purchase the maximum liability insurance amounts your budget permits. The higher amounts could protect your assets if you cause an accident.
What Happens if You Cause a Car Crash in Los Angeles?
If you are at fault for a car accident, notify your insurance company immediately. Your insurance provider assigns an insurance adjuster to investigate the claim. Your insurance company should pay the claim up to your policy limits if you were at fault.
However, insurance companies try to avoid liability for claims. Therefore, your insurance company could deny the claim or refuse to pay the amount demanded by the injured party to settle the claim.
If your insurance provider does not settle the accident claim, the injured party can file a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit names you as the defendant, not your insurance company.
Notify your insurance provider immediately if you receive notice of a lawsuit. The company should retain a defense lawyer to defend you. However, that does not mean you cannot seek legal advice from a personal injury of your choice at your expense.
What To Do After an Accident To Protect Yourself
Regardless of whether you believe you could be at fault for a car accident, you need to remain calm and take steps to protect yourself. First, call 911 to report the crash and remain at the accident scene.
Do not leave the scene of a car accident. Fleeing the scene of an accident is against the law. You could be charged and convicted of hit and run.
The other driver might want to discuss the cause of the accident. Do not admit fault or apologize for the crash. It is best not to discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than the police officer.
Topics to avoid discussing at a car accident scene include:
- What you were doing right before the collision
- How you think the collision occurred
- Who you think is to blame for the accident
Instead, remain polite but avoid unnecessary conversation. While you wait for the police to arrive, you should gather evidence at the accident scene. Evidence to gather at an accident scene includes:
- The names and contact information of eyewitnesses and bystanders
- The names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident
- Photographs of the vehicles, including damage to each vehicle
- A video of the entire accident scene, including the surrounding area
When the police officer arrives, please give them a general statement of how the accident occurred. The officer notes your response in the accident report, so you never want to add unnecessary details. For example, do not tell the officer you were eating a sandwich, making a telephone call, or running a red light.
It is wise to go to the doctor for an examination, even if you do not believe you are seriously injured. Some injuries might not be immediately apparent. However, prompt medical attention could avoid complications and reduce recovery time.
Delays in medical treatment could hurt a personal injury case. Even though you believe you could be at fault for the cause of the accident, you still need accurate medical records in case the other party shares liability for the crash.
Contributory Fault Could Result in a Partial Payment for Damages
California is a pure contributory fault state. Each party in a car accident is responsible for damages based on their percentage of fault. Therefore, if you are 100% at fault for causing a Los Angeles car accident, you could be liable for the total of the victim’s damages.
However, if you are 50% at fault for the crash, you are only responsible for one-half of the damages sustained by the other driver. Therefore, the other driver would be responsible for 50% of your damages.
If you are only partially to blame for causing a car accident, you could recover some compensation for your injuries. It also reduces the amount you owe the victim for their damages.
What Damages Do Car Accident Victims Receive in California?
There are three basic types of damages in a car accident case. Those damages are:
A car accident victim can seek reimbursement for the financial losses and expenses caused by the crash. Economic damages include:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of income
- Medical bills
- Personal care and assistance with household chores
- Diminished earning capacity
You must have proof of the amount of your financial damages. Therefore, keep detailed records of all expenses and copies of receipts, bills, invoices, and other evidence of monetary losses.
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical discomfort
- A decrease in quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Disabilities and impairments
It is difficult to put a price on someone’s suffering. Furthermore, there is no standard formula or statutory requirement for calculating the value of non-economic damages. Most insurance companies, juries, and lawyers use the multiplier method, but the per diem method could be used in some cases.
Economic and non-economic damages compensate the accident victim for losses. Compensatory damages are intended to make the victim “whole” after a personal injury by compensating them for actual losses.
However, punitive damages do not compensate the victim for losses. Instead, these damages “punish” the at-fault party for their conduct. Punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of personal injury lawsuits.
What Should I Do if I Believe I Caused a Los Angeles Car Accident?
Talk with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so it does not cost you anything to get legal advice.
After talking with an attorney, you better understand your legal rights and options. Therefore, you make informed decisions designed to protect your best interests.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.