3 Important Car Accident Laws Governing California

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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Having a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Trying to get compensation for damages incurred by the accident can also be a struggle. Here are three basic facts about car laws in California that you need to remember while filing a lawsuit:

There’s a Time Limit

California has a law in place which sets a time limit on going to court to file a lawsuit. This ‘Statute of Limitations’ puts forth different rules for different types of cases. If you have suffered a car accident in California, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, and three years to file a property damage lawsuit for the damage to your vehicle.

It would also be a good idea to make sure that your insurance claim is filed before the deadline for the lawsuit is up. This will help ensure that if negotiations during the settlement come to a deadlock, you’ll have time to file a personal injury lawsuit, or threaten to file it as leverage.

Another point to remember is that if the government is involved in some manner with the accident, for instance, if the collision occurred with a public vehicle or on public property, you’ll want to file the paperwork as quickly as possible.  

Who’s at Fault?  

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may share part of the blame, and in this case the laws of different states have different rules for how you can file your claims. For accidents in California, the law allows you to receive compensation from the other party that is at fault, even if you have a share in the blame.

What you need to remember, however, is that the compensation will be reduced according to the percentage of your fault in the matter. This makes California a ‘Comparative Negligence’ state. This rule applies to the court based lawsuit as well as the calculations of the insurance claim adjuster when he’s estimating the worth of your damages claim.

Car Insurance Requirements

There are laws on auto insurance in California that kick into effect once an accident takes place. California laws demand liability insurance coverage for vehicles in operation in the state. This insurance is used to compensate other drivers and passengers for damages in case of an accident.    

Thus, a minimum amount of liability coverage is a must for driving a vehicle in California. More coverage can also be opted for. Doing so means that if you are also at fault for the accident, you will have an additional amount to pay out the remaining costs once your policy limit is exhausted.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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