Person driving car

Car Accidents in Los Angeles: Is California a No-Fault State?

Traffic jams and car wrecks are simply a part of living in Los Angeles. According to the state’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS), throughout Los Angeles County in 2017, an average of 400 vehicle accidents of all types happened every day. 

In the vast majority of these motor vehicle wrecks, the crash itself is followed by motorists filing claims with their insurance companies. While your insurer may be contractually obligated to pay your claim no matter who caused the accident, that does not mean that it is always your insurer who must bear the ultimate cost of a wreck.

The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Insurance States

When it comes to who pays for the injuries and property damage of a car wreck, states in the country fall into either a fault-based category or a no-fault category. In those states that follow a fault-based system, the driver who is primarily at fault ends up ultimately responsible for paying damages to others harmed in the wreck.

In a fault-based system, the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay the claims of their insured driver as well as claims submitted by others, up to the policy’s limits. This can only happen once it becomes clear who the at-fault driver is in an accident. If there is disagreement over who is at fault, it can take months for claims to be paid.

In a no-fault state, your insurance company would pay only your claim according to your policy’s terms. There is no consideration of whether you were at fault in causing the wreck or not. Your insurance company would not be obligated to pay any other person’s claim. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Fault and No-Fault Systems

Both fault-based and no-fault insurance have their benefits as well as their drawbacks. No-fault insurance will typically pay claims much quicker than fault-based insurance policies. Moreover, there is less litigation since insurance companies cannot try to seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance.

However, no-fault insurance tends to come with higher premiums than fault-based insurance. Additionally, if your insurance policy’s benefits are not sufficient to cover all of your medical expenses and costs, you may not have the option of suing the at-fault driver and recovering the difference.

In a fault-based system, payment of claims may be delayed if you are not at fault but choose to file a claim with your insurance company anyway. However, fault-based insurance premiums tend to be lower than no-fault insurance premiums. In the event you still have expenses and losses even after filing a claim, fault-based states make it easier to seek additional compensation through a lawsuit.

California Is a Fault-Based State

California is a fault-based state for the purposes of car insurance. This means that when you are involved in a car accident and the other driver is at fault, you should file your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your rates should not increase if someone else is completely responsible for causing the wreck.

This also means that you should consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver if the insurance payout you receive is not sufficient. 

Such lawsuits do not require you to show any threshold level of injuries. You must simply establish that the other driver caused the crash through carelessness and you were injured as a result.

Get Additional Help from a California Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are unsure of your legal rights or how to receive compensation following a car wreck, contact the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Saeedian Law Group. We can help you in filing an insurance claim, especially if the fault is being challenged. We can also provide dedicated and informed representation if litigation becomes necessary.