Is California a No-Fault State?

The insurance laws in every state provide a means for car accident victims to be compensated for their injuries. However, these laws vary in terms of whose insurance company pays. The two primary categories of car insurance are no-fault and at-fault insurance. California is an at-fault insurance state.

The car accident lawyers at Cutter Law P.C. can not only help you navigate California’s at-fault system but also ensure that the amount of compensation you receive is fair.

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    What is the difference between a no-fault state and an at-fault state?

    The no-fault insurance states require all motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP), also known as no-fault car insurance. In the event of an accident, drivers must file a claim with their own insurance companies regardless of fault. Accident laws in these states typically require drivers to also carry liability insurance, which is used as secondary insurance when PIP coverage limits are exhausted.

    At-fault insurance states require drivers to carry liability insurance as the primary source of coverage. The injured party must file an injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company after establishing fault.

    California Financial Responsibility Laws

    Financial responsibility law is the legal term for auto insurance requirements. California motorists are required to carry a minimum of $35,000 in total liability insurance coverage as follows:

    • Bodily injury: $15,000 for injury or death to one person per accident, up to $30,000 for multiple persons
    • Property damage: $5,000 per accident

    The state of California allows residents to carry the required insurance in the following forms:

    • A motor vehicle liability policy
    • A cash deposit of $35,000 with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
    • A DMV-issued self-insurance certificate
    • A surety bond of $35,000 from a California-licensed company

    California motorists are required to carry their insurance information in their vehicles at all times and present it in the following circumstances:

    • Upon request by law enforcement
    • When registering a vehicle
    • After a collision

    Can I purchase a no-fault insurance policy in California?

    Personal injury protection is not offered in the state of California, but drivers do have the option of purchasing medical payments insurance, sometimes termed MedPay. MedPay is an optional insurance program that covers your medical expenses regardless of fault. It can be purchased starting at $1,000 of coverage.

    What are my options if the at-fault party is uninsured?

    California insurance providers are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage, but drivers are not required to accept it. Uninsured motorist covers your damages when the at-fault driver is uninsured or in the case of a hit-and-run accident. Underinsured motorist provides secondary insurance when liability coverage or your own uninsured motorist coverage is insufficient. Our law firm highly recommends purchasing these coverages.

    If the insurance limits are exhausted before all your damages are covered, you can file a lawsuit against the policyholder. Regardless of the amount of compensation you win, the amount you recover is limited by the collectible assets the defendant owns.

    You may be able to collect additional damages by suing negligent third parties, such as property owners and vehicle parts manufacturers.

    Can I file a claim if I am at fault in the accident?

    California law is a pure comparative negligence state, which means at-fault parties can collect compensation proportionate to their degree of fault. For example, if you are 99 percent at fault, you can collect 1 percent of the compensation available.

    How much compensation can I expect to receive?

    The amount of compensation available depends on the extent of your injuries. If the accident has caused permanent disability or the death of a family member, you may be eligible to receive substantial compensation. However, the total payout you receive from the insurance company will be limited to the coverage limits purchased by the at-fault party.

    Types of Compensation

    The types of damages you can receive in the state of California can be categorized as follows:

    • Economic damages: monetary losses
      • Lost wages
      • Loss of earning capacity (future lost income)
      • Medical expenses
      • Future medical costs
      • In the case of wrongful death:
        • burial expenses
        • loss of decedent’s earning capacity
        • Medical bills of the deceased
    • Noneconomic damages: nonmonetary losses
      • Disfigurement
      • Mental anguish
      • Pain and suffering
      • Loss of society
    • Punitive damages: also known as exemplary damages
      • Awarded as a punishment or deterrent when fraud, malice, or oppression by the defendant caused the accident

    Limitations for Uninsured Drivers

    The state of California prohibits uninsured drivers from claiming noneconomic damages if they are injured by an insured driver unless the at-fault driver is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

    Can I file an insurance claim without a car accident attorney?

    Insurance companies operate in their own best interests, no matter how user-friendly their claims process appears. They have access to expensive legal teams and experienced adjusters who are incentivized to reduce or eliminate your compensation. They may employ the following tactics:

    • Dispute fault
    • Induce you to make statements they can use against you
    • Pressure you to accept a premature, lowball settlement
    • Persuade you to sign your rights away

    How can Cutter Law P.C. help me with my California car accident claim?

    In the aftermath of an auto accident, the last thing you need is to fight insurance companies and navigate the legal system. The personal injury lawyers at Cutter Law P.C. offer the same high-caliber representation previously reserved for insurance companies.

    Our law firm places a high priority on the attorney-client relationship. We offer honest legal advice and free case evaluations. We strive for nothing less than the full compensation our clients deserve. 

    Below are a few examples of the results we have achieved for our clients:

    • $1.895 million on behalf of an injured cyclist
    • $678,000 verdict on behalf of a pedestrian hit by a car
    • $596,000 on behalf of an injured motorcyclist

    Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys.

    Schedule A Free Case Review

    Our Office Location

    401 Watt Avenue Suite 100
    Sacramento, CA 95864
    Phone: 916-290-9400

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