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Car Inspection Laws in California

Car inspection laws in California are strict. Owners have a responsibility to maintain their vehicles in good operating order. Vehicles that are not properly maintained can increase the risk of a car accident.

Therefore, state law requires routine vehicle safety inspections for most motor vehicles. Continue reading to learn more about California’s car inspection requirements and how they may affect a car accident claim. 

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Requirements for California Smog Certification Vehicle Inspections

Most vehicles must be inspected every two years. The inspections focus primarily on emissions inspections. 

Smog checks and inspection types are based on where your vehicle is registered. You can check which smog inspection areas apply to you by entering your zip code here. You should also receive a smog inspection requirement notice with your registration renewal from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

There are some exceptions to the California emissions inspection requirements. For example, vehicle models 1975 or older are exempt from inspection requirements when the vehicle is gasoline-powered. Also, diesel-powered vehicles that are model years 1997 and older are exempt from emission inspections.

Natural gas or diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of over 14,000 pounds do not require emissions inspections every two years. Electric vehicles and motorcycles are also exempt from inspections for emissions. 

Do New Vehicles Require an Inspection?

If your vehicle is newer than eight model years, it is exempt from biennial inspections in some cases. However, you must pay a smog abatement fee during the years your car is exempt from inspections. 

If your vehicle requires an inspection, you need to complete the inspection before you register your vehicle. The DMV generally receives smog inspection reports electronically from inspection stations. The smog certification is only valid for 90 days, so you must complete or renew your registration before the smog certification expires. 

What Happens if Your Vehicle Fails the Emissions Inspection in California?

If your vehicle fails inspection in California, you must repair the problems so that it passes the smog inspection. However, there is an assistance program that owners might qualify for if the repairs are too expensive for them. The program provides financial assistance for repairs to the vehicle’s emissions systems. 

Can an Improperly Maintained Vehicle Cause a Car Accident?

Failing to maintain your vehicle could be a factor in the cause of a car accident. For instance, let’s assume you did not have your brakes inspected after hearing squeaking sounds when you apply the brakes. Failing to inspect the brakes resulted in the brakes failing, causing a rear-end accident.

Likewise, you failed to replace worn windshield wipers or tires. Your windshield wipers decreased your visibility during a rainstorm, which led to you running a red light and causing a crash. Your worn tire blew out on the interstate causing you to lose control of the vehicle and crash into another car.

Even though you did not intend to cause a car accident, you could be financially liable for damages because your conduct led to the cause of the traffic accident. If your automobile insurance does not cover the accident victim’s damages, you could have a personal judgment against you for the remaining balance. 

California Automobile Insurance Requirements

California requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability automobile insurance

The minimum requirements for car insurance in California are:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for bodily injury or death to more than one person per incident
  • $5,000 for property damage

Your liability insurance compensates victims for their damages after an accident you cause. However, the minimum coverage is very low. $15,000 might only cover a small portion of their medical bills after an accident. It would not compensate them for lost wagespain and suffering, and other damages. Thus, they may file a lawsuit to recover their remaining damages. 

How Do I Prove That the Other Driver Caused the Car Crash?

California is an at-fault state for car accident claims. You have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the car accident. If you cannot prove causation and fault, you cannot hold the driver legally responsible for your damages.

The fault for some car crashes is apparent. For example, there might be a video of a car running a red light and causing a collision. However, many car accident cases are not that simple.

A Los Angeles car accident attorney will investigate the cause of the car wreck and gather evidence proving how the crash occurred. 

Evidence in a car accident case might include:

  • Videos from traffic cameras, dash cams, and nearby surveillance cameras
  • Physical evidence from the accident scene
  • Statements made by the drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
  • Evidence gathered from the vehicle’s data recorders
  • Expert opinions and evidence from accident reconstructionists and other expert witnesses
  • Photographs of the traffic accident
  • Accident and crash reports 
  • Results of accident investigations by law enforcement agencies and other government agencies 
  • Copies of cell phone records if distracted driving could have been a factor in the cause of the car accident 

Suppose your attorney suspects that a failed inspection report or other mechanical problems might have contributed to the cause of the crash. In that case, the lawyer might request copies of maintenance and inspection records. Your attorney may also retain experts to review the collision to determine whether a lack of vehicle maintenance could have contributed to the cause of the crash.

What Damages Could I Recover for a Car Accident Claim?

Most car accident victims in California are entitled to recover compensation for their economic damages and non-economic damages

The types of damages you could receive include:

The value of your damages depends on your injuries and other factors. An attorney can help you maximize your recovery by gathering evidence and aggressively negotiating with the insurance company. 

Contact a Los Angeles Auto Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation After a Car Accident

Car accident claims can be frustrating and complicated. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney will assist you with all aspects of the claims process and fight to get you the most money possible for your car accident claim.

Schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles, CA.



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