Posted On December 21, 2020 Car Accidents

How Is Liability Determined in a California Car Accident?

Car accidents are not uncommon throughout the state of California. According to the Office of Traffic Safety, there were more than 272,000 total vehicle accident injuries and 3,563 fatalities caused by traffic crashes during the latest year of data. California follows a fault-based system when it comes to determining who will pay for compensation after a crash occurs. Therefore, it is incredibly important to understand how liability is determined after a California car accident.

Investigations Will Occur After a Crash

Most people think of investigations occurring only when there has been a criminal violation, but the reality is that nearly all car accidents will be investigated one way or another. First, nearly every accident must be reported to law enforcement officials. The police will conduct a preliminary investigation into a crash and usually determine who they think was at fault for the incident. However, the police report is not the “end all be all” of a crash. Insurance carriers for all parties involved will also conduct their own investigations into the incident.

We need to point out that insurance carriers are not investigating the incident because they necessarily want to help you. In fact, the insurance carriers want to pay as little as possible in any car accident settlement. That is why they spent so much time investigating each incident.

Proving Negligence After a Car Accident in California

If you are injured in an accident caused by somebody else, you will either secure compensation through an insurance settlement or through a personal injury lawsuit settlement or verdict. In order to obtain this compensation, you need to prove the negligence of the other party. Often, your insurance carrier will be the one to prove fault. However, it may be necessary for you to work with a skilled Upland car accident lawyer who will have your back with the case.

The most common types of evidence used to prove negligence and determine fault after a California car accident include the following:

  • Photographs taken at the scene of the crash. This can include photos of vehicle damage, causes of the crash, injuries, skid marks, traffic and weather conditions, and more.
  • The police report
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Video surveillance from nearby homes or businesses that may have seen the incident
  • Evidence of traffic or criminal violations

What About Shared Fault for a California Car Accident?

It could very well be the case that more than one driver shares fault for an accident. In these instances, those involved need to know that California operates under a pure comparative negligence system. This means that even those who share fault for an accident can still recover compensation for their losses. Under the pure comparative negligence system in California, injury victims can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident that caused them harm. However, the total amount of compensation they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.

The pure comparative negligence system underscores the importance of determining liability after a crash. The more one party is able to place liability on other parties, the less they will be on the line for paying. Conversely, the more liability you are found to have for an accident, the less you will receive.

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