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How does auto accident fault work in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

When a serious auto accident occurs, the court will determine fault for the incident. California’s fault rules determine liability, which in turn affects compensation for the costs of an accident.

Drivers should understand the state laws about auto accident fault so they can take the right actions in an accident.

The comparative fault system

California follows a comparative fault system, which means that the court can assign a percentage of fault to more than one party.  Their actions leading up to the collision influence the fault determination. For example, texting behind the wheel and speeding typically result in auto accident fault.

You can still recoup part of your total related damages if you have less than 50% fault for the incident. In this case, the judge will reduce your awarded amount by your fault percentage.

Factors in fault determination

The court considers several factors when determining fault in a serious auto accident:

  • Traffic violations like failing to yield or running a red light
  • Duty of care, which describes each motorist’s responsibility to drive safety
  • Witness statements, which provide insight into the events that led up to the accident
  • Police reports from law enforcement officers who respond to the accident at the scene

You can also present evidence such as photos and videos of the crash site.

Fault-based insurance

Many states have a no-fault insurance system. Each party’s auto insurance company covers their accident damages. Conversely, California has a fault-based system. If the court finds the other driver at fault, their insurance company pays for your medical bills and other expenses.

Under the fault system, presenting a strong case can maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation. The economic costs of an auto accident average $40,000 to $150,000 depending on the extent of injuries.