When an individual has been involved in a car accident, liability is an important issue to establish in California, as we are considered a “fault state”. A fault state puts the financial responsibility on the individuals involved. Determining which party is liable is essential because it will establish which party is responsible for covering damages, whether it be for an injury or property.
Immediately following a car accident, it is important to follow these steps. As time begins to progress after your accident, a key date to mark in your calendar is the statute of limitations for your potential case. In the state of California, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim after a car accident is two years and three years for a property damage claim. Once the statute of limitations runs out, an individual is no longer able to pursue legal action in terms of remedying the damages or injuries incurred.
How is Liability Determined?
When it comes to determining fault in California, there are many different rules in place that make establishing liability incredibly complicated. The initial step in determining fault occurs when the police arrive to the scene of the accident. In most cases, but not all, the police will state an opinion in their report after gathering statements from individuals involved in the accident or any witnesses at the site.
Although it can be difficult to determine fault, if one of the individual’s involved was committing an act of negligence, then they will assume a portion if not all the liability. Some of these acts are, but are not limited to:
- Drinking Under the Influence (DUI): Driving while under the influence of drugs or with an alcohol blood level of 0.08 or more.
- Traffic Violations: Violating traffic laws such as failing to stop at a stop sign, running a red light, or even speeding.
- Distracted Driving: This occurs when the driver is distracted by something such as a cellphone, a passenger, or even something outside of the vehicle they are operating.
- Poor Road Conditions: If there are issues with the road conditions that potentially contributed to the accident, you may be entitled to file suit against the government.
- Faulty or Poorly Upheld Vehicles: An accident that is the result of a defective vehicle part can occur on the manufacturing level which may then lead to a product liability claim, however a driver is at fault if they fail to adequately take care of their car, such as getting routine oil changes or brake pad replacements.
If any negligence is found by either one or both drivers, the officer will state such in the report. This police report will then be used by the insurance companies in order to determine which party will be responsible for covering the damage. Often times if both parties have been deemed negligent then the coverage will be determined on a percentage basis. Prior to getting involved in an accident, it is crucial that you understand what your car insurance covers.
If you were recently injured in an auto accident and believe you were not the party at fault, but your insurance company is trying to tell you otherwise, contact our experienced legal team today to learn what coverage is available to you. The attorneys at Ghozland Law Firm are available for a free, no obligation consultation about your potential case.