California Car Accident Laws

Posted on

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents kill approximately 100 people daily, making them the leading cause of death in the United States. On a state-by-state basis, a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that there are nearly 3,000 accident fatalities in California every year.

That said, if you or your loved one have been involved in a car accident in California, it is fundamental for you to comprehend the California car accident laws. This is highly crucial since it ensures that you know your rights whenever you are injured in a car accident in California. The truth is that car accidents usually inflict severe and sometimes life-changing injuries on the victims.

As a result, most car accident victims in California may be entitled to monetary compensation. California car accident laws make it possible for you to file a legal claim with regard to compensation for the injuries suffered. Additionally, understanding California car accident laws is highly advantageous since it helps you understand how fault is determined, your obligations as a driver, and the various prerequisites that are considered before damages are awarded.

Once you understand these laws and decide to pursue a compensation claim, it is best to hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you navigate the complex California car accident laws and procedures. Contact Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers on 888-668-1451 today and request a free consultation.

California Laws on Reporting a Car Accident

The following are some of the common California car accident laws on when and how you should report a car accident in California.

Should you report a car accident to law enforcement in California?

California Vehicle Code Section 20008 clearly stipulates that it is imperative for a driver who is involved in a car accident to report the crash to submit a written report of the crash to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours after the incident occurs. Noteworthy is the fact that this report is only necessary if the car accident resulted in any injuries or deaths.

This report is extremely fundamental since it makes it easy for the responsible agency to investigate the crash. That said, in instances where a law enforcement officer comes to the car accident site, you do not need to write a report since they will prepare their own written report of the accident.

Should you report a car accident to the California DMV?

According to California car accident laws, if you are involved in a car crash that either results in personal injury, or property damage of more than $1000, it is imperative for you to report the crash to the California DMV. California Vehicle Code Section 16000 states that this report should be made within ten days of the accident. It can either be made by you, your insurance company, or your experienced personal injury attorney.

The DMV accident report should be filed on form SR-1, which should include the following details:

  • The name and address of any person involved in the crash and who suffered a body injury
  • The location, time, and date of the accident
  • The insurance information of all the drivers involved in the accident
  • A description of the injuries and damage that have been suffered

Financial Responsibility Requirements in California

Put simply, any vehicle that is registered in the State of California must be covered by some sort of financial responsibility, such as a car insurance policy. California Insurance Code Section 11580 provides for various minimum insurance requirements that ensure that any costs related to property damage, personal injury, or a car accident are covered.

Additionally, California accident laws require drivers to provide proof of insurance when involved in a car accident. Failure to do this may result in the revocation of your license if you are involved in a car crash. When it comes to insurance providers, California Insurance Code Section 11580.2 makes it imperative for insurance providers to offer their clients underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage when it comes to insurance providers:

  • Underinsured motorist coverage: This type of insurance coverage usually applies when you are involved in a car accident with a driver who does not have sufficient insurance to cater for the full amount of the damages you have incurred. The underinsured motorist coverage thus helps to cover the remainder of the cost.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: This policy usually caters to the cost of damages sustained by you and any other passengers who were injured in your car during the accident by an uninsured driver.

What is the car accident statute of limitations in California?

Put briefly, the statute of limitations is a law that prescribes the amount of time an individual has to file a lawsuit for a particular claim. According to California car accident laws, the statute of limitations usually depends on the type of damage suffered during the accident.

According to California Civil Code Section 335, the statute of limitations for car accident victims who suffer from bodily injury is two years from the date of the accident.  For those who experience property damage, California Civil Code Section 338 prescribes the statute of limitations as three years from the date of the accident.

That said, it is fundamental for you to note that there are various instances when the statute of limitations may be extended. These include:

  • When there is reasonable delay: In instances where there is a reasonable delay in the discovery of any accident-related injury, the discovery of harm rule is usually applied. Consequently, the statute of limitations applies from the date of when the injury is discovered and not from the date of the accident. This is provided for under California Civil Code Section 338.
  • If the defendant is imprisoned: The statute of limitations for a car accident in California may be extended if the defendant is imprisoned for a criminal charge. This is clearly stipulated under California Civil Code Section 352.1.
  • When the defendant cannot be located: According to California Civil Code Section 351, the statute of limitations may be extended when the defendant is out of the State. Therefore, the statute of limitations applies from the date of the defendant’s return to the State.

Contact Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers Today!

If you or your loved one are car accident victims in California, our highly experienced attorneys will competently cater to your legal needs and ensure that you are sufficiently compensated for any losses you may have suffered.

While no amount of money can undo the damage cost, compensation can at least ensure that your standard of living remains the same as it was before the accident. Therefore, contact us today at 888-668-1451 and book a free consultation!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the damages available for car accident victims in California?

According to California personal injury law, personal injury victims, including victims of car accidents, have the right to be awarded damages. There are various types of damages that you can be awarded for your personal injury claim in California:

  • Economic damages: According to California Civil Code Section 1431.2, economic damages are the type of damages that cater to any economic losses you may have incurred due to the accident. These include property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and inability to work, which affects your future earnings.
  • Non-economic damages: California Civil Code Section 1431.2 (b) (2) defines non-economic damages as compensation for non-monetary losses suffered by an accident victim. Also known as general damages, non-economic damages usually cater for subjective losses you may have experienced from the accident, such as: emotional distress, pain and suffering, physical impairment, and loss of employment.

Are there any limitations to the recovery of damages in California car accident cases?

According to California Civil Code Section 333.4, drivers cannot recover non-economic damages in situations where:

  • They are convicted of a DUI. This is in accordance with sections 23152 and 23153 of the Vehicle Code.
  • They do not have car insurance or any proof of the State’s financial responsibility requirements.

Should I hire a California car accident attorney?

The truth is that hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your California car accident lawsuit is the best decision you can make. This is because an experienced personal injury attorney will protect your rights and ensure that you get the amount of compensation that you deserve. Similarly, an experienced personal injury attorney will help you navigate the complex California car accident laws and procedures.

Attorney Jeff Logo white

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.