California Car Accident Laws

San Diego Car Accident Practice Areas

Drunk Driving

SUV Rollover

Hit & Run

Texting & Driving

Head On Collisions

Rear End Collision


Aggressive Driving

Improper Turn

Reckless Driving

T-Boned Car Accident


Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Rideshare Accident

Brake Failure

California car accident laws dictate how individuals should conduct themselves on the roadways. These car accident laws serve to ensure the protection of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets. They are in-depth instructions for drivers in case of a collision and to determine the accountable ones for any harm or damage resulting in or from the accident.

Having a good grasp of California’s car accident laws is vital. Car crashes are one of the state’s major causes of injury and fatalities, harming those involved. Knowing the laws governing these accidents enables drivers and victims to make informed decisions, defend their rights and interests, and prevent future accidents. The importance of understanding these laws must be considered.

Regardless of the driving experience, it’s of utmost importance to have a firm grasp of car accident laws. This understanding guides citizens through the complexities of any accident’s aftermath and further helps to secure the necessary compensation. Any accident victim is subject to compensation for the damages or injuries sustained. So, if you reside in California or plan to drive in the state, it’s crucial to know these laws and understand the rights and obligations.

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California Car Accident Statistics

In 2021, 57,466 car accidents were reported to the police in California. So far, in 2022, 24,710 accidents have been reported. Throughout the state, car crashes resulted in a total of 3,786 deaths in 2021 and 19,152 fatalities or serious injuries. Distracted driving was a major contributor to these accidents and led to 139 fatalities in 2021, which was a 31.1% increase from 2020. 

The counties with the most distracted driving fatalities in 2020 were Los Angeles and San Diego. In 2020, there were 756 fatalities due to unrestrained occupants in the state. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of reported car accidents decreased by 25.3% from 2019 to 2020. But as things began to open up, there was a 19.6% increase in crashes from 2020 to 2021. The causes of vehicle accidents in California in 2021 were mostly due to unsafe speeds (45.3%), improper turning (20.3%), DUIs (10.9%), and other causes (23.3%).

Reporting A California Car Accident

Do I Need To Report A Car Crash To Law Enforcement In California?

If anyone’s involved in a car accident in California inflicting injury, death, or damage over $1,000, one must report it to law enforcement within 24 hours, according to the California Vehicle Code 20008. Not doing so is a misdemeanor of the car accident California laws and can result in possible fines and jail time. 

Contact the police immediately to get help and have them investigate and document the accident. If the law enforcers aren’t available, one can report the crash to the nearest California Highway Patrol office or police department. Remember to exchange information with the other driver and get the contact information of any witnesses.

Do I Need to Report A Car Accident To The California DMV?

In California, one should report car accidents in case of an injury, death, or $1,000+ in damage to the DMV within 10 days, according to California Vehicle Code 16025. It helps keep records of accidents involving California drivers. Fill out a Traffic Accident Report (SR 1) form and submit it to the DMV if an accident meets the abovementioned criteria. Reporting to their insurance or the DMV is unnecessary if the individual isn’t at fault. 

However, for the responsible driver, informing their insurance company is of the highest importance as it may impact their coverage. Therefore, it’s crucial to obtain the responsible driver’s details, such as their name, contact information, insurance information, license plate number, and any witnesses contact information.

Should I Report The Accident To My Car Insurance Company?

Whether to report a car accident to an insurance company depends on the accident’s circumstances and the policy in place. It is generally recommended to report any accident, even if not at fault, due to potential unseen damage or injury. If there is property damage, personal injury, or medical expenses, it is important to report it as soon as possible. If the victim is not at fault, their insurance company can assist with the claims process and communicate with the responsible driver’s insurance. 

On the other hand, reporting the accident is crucial if the policyholder is at fault, as it can impact their coverage and rate. The insurance company can also help resolve any disputes. Therefore, reviewing the policy and consulting the insurance company for their reporting guidelines is recommended.

What to Do After A California Car Accident?

After a car accident in California, several important steps should be taken in order to protect the victim and their rights. The first thing to do is check for injuries and seek medical attention if necessary. Next, you must report the accident to the authorities if it involves injury, death, or property damage. The authorities will then investigate the scene and file a report, which can be used for insurance or legal purposes. 

One should also exchange information with the other driver(s) involved, including names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, license plate numbers, and the vehicle makes and models. Additionally, take photos of the damages and document the scene, including any skid marks or other accident details. 

It’s also important to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault. If you need assistance, seeking legal advice from a personal injury attorney is a good idea, especially if there were injuries or significant property damage.

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Types of Damages In A California Car Accident

If involved in a car accident in California, the plaintiff can claim two main types of damages: economic and non-economic.

Economic Damages: These are tangible losses like medical costs, lost wages, property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Non-Economic Damages: These casualties involve intangible losses such as emotional distress, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

In some cases, you may also be eligible for punitive damages if the other driver’s behavior was reckless. However, one needs to be mindful of the statute of limitations; it’s best to act quickly and consider getting the help of a lawyer to ensure the deserved compensation.

California Car Accident Statute of Limitations

California car accident laws dictate that any accident can be filed in a span of 2 years from the incident. But it can vary according to cases; in some claims, the statute of limitations could be extended – for example, to 6 months if the responsible party is a government entity or until the person turns 18 if they were under 18 while the accident happened.

It’s best to seek the help of a lawyer who can explain the statute of limitations for your case and help with filing the claim promptly. An attorney can also help gather evidence, negotiate a settlement, and represent the plaintiff in court if necessary. Note that every car accident case is unique, so if you have any questions, contact Shamon Law for assistance.

California Car Accident Compensation Laws

Plaintiffs are eligible for compensation for California car accident damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The amount of compensation received depends on factors like the severity of injuries, recovery time, and the impact of the accident on the victim’s life. For example, one may be entitled to economic damages for expenses related to the accident, like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. But the plaintiff is also entitled to non-economic damages or intangible losses like pain, suffering, and emotional distress.

If the driver responsible for the accident acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct, one might also be eligible for punitive damages, which are meant to punish them and prevent similar behavior in the future. California car accident compensation can be quite complicated; it’s important to thoroughly understand the state’s laws and the types of damages that are eligible for it. An experienced attorney can help the plaintiff understand their rights, negotiate a settlement, guide them through filing a claim, or represent them in court if needed.

California Car Accidents Insurance Rules

California is a bustling state with diverse landscapes and busy highways, making car accidents common. Therefore, drivers must understand California car accident laws, as the state operates on a “fault” system for accidents and requires the at-fault driver to cover damages and injuries. 

However, drivers can opt for uninsured or underinsured coverage for protection. For medical expenses, California operates on a “no-fault” system, with each driver’s insurance company covering their expenses up to a limit. To stay protected, drivers should have the minimum liability coverage required by law and consider additional coverage options, staying informed of the state’s auto insurance laws for peace of mind on the road.

California Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements

All drivers in California are required to have liability insurance to cover damages or injuries they may cause to others in a car accident. Under Cal. Veh. Code § 16056, the minimum coverage required is $15,000 for bodily injury or death for one victim and $30,000 for bodily injury or death for two or more people per accident and $5,000 in property damage coverage.

This law is proposed as outdated and is subject to be replaced with Protect California Drivers Act on Jan. 1, 2025. Under the new law, the minimum required liability coverage would be $30,000 for bodily injury or death for one victim, $60,000 for bodily injury or death for two or more victims, and $15,000 in property damage coverage.

Contact Top-Rated Car Accident Lawyer Near You

When caught in a car accident in California, it’s best to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. They can guide you through the legal process, deal with insurance companies, and fight for entitled compensation. A top-rated car accident lawyer will have extensive experience with similar cases and be familiar with the regulations and laws applied to the situation. They should also understand the evidence and documentation necessary for building a strong case.

When looking for an attorney, seek someone with a successful track record and who is known for being knowledgeable, responsive, and accessible. Find a lawyer who’s easy to work with and dedicated to getting you the best outcome; look at online reviews and check the lawyer’s website. Schedule a consultation to discuss your case and ask questions.

Final Thought

California’s car accident laws play an important part in keeping drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe. The laws outline how people should act after a collision and assign responsibility for any damage or injury. Knowing these laws is crucial for drivers, as car accidents are a major cause of harm in California. 

Accident victims need to understand their rights to compensation and justice. Reporting the accident to the authorities, lawyers, and insurance company helps document the situation and makes it easier to file a claim. For example, suppose one is involved in a car accident. In that case, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself, like seeking medical attention, exchanging information with other drivers, and reporting the accident. 

For a smooth and stress-free car accident claim, one can contact the professional attorneys at Shamon Law. With our expertise and knowledge, rest assured your rights will be protected, and we ensure to handle your case with the utmost importance.

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FAQs About Car Accident Laws In California

In the event of a car accident that is not your fault, the utmost priority is to exchange information with the other driver(s), seek medical attention, and report the accident to the authorities, your lawyer, and your insurance company. These steps will help protect your rights and assist with the claims process.

If you’re involved in an accident that is not your fault, your insurance company will go on a process of subrogation. It, in general terms, means to recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company.

Each car accident case is unique, and the amount of compensation received depends on the specific circumstances attached to the incident. Despite it being the case, it is believed that the most reported cases usually settle for an average amount of $21,000 in California.

One must be mindful while speaking with the insurance company after a car accident. Don’t admit fault if you’re not the one that made a mistake or says anything that could be interpreted as accepting responsibility. Only give basic and accurate details about the accident and avoid providing unnecessary information.

Yes, there are cases where one can be sentenced to jail time for a car accident in California. It includes hit and run, wobbler, and other major cases revolving around car accidents.

It is known that the timeline for claiming damage is usually 2 years, according to the statute of limitations in California. Still, filing a claim as soon as possible is typically recommended.

Below are 5 things that you must follow at an accident scene:

  1. Seek medical attention
  2. Exchange information with other drivers that are involved or can be witnesses
  3. Call the authorities and report the accident
  4. Take photos and videos of the damage and the surrounding area
  5. Report the accident to your lawyer and insurance company.
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