Is California an At-Fault or a No-Fault State?

by Christian Scranton

No matter where you are in the United States, any driver needs insurance. But the rules you need to abide by can change drastically depending on your zip code. Whether you live in an at-fault or a no-fault state can also seriously impact how you must act after a car accident. So, what’s the difference between at-fault and no-fault, and which applies to drivers in California?

No-fault law requires that all vehicle owners and drivers take out personal injury protection insurance (PIP insurance). PIP provides cover to pay for any injuries sustained in a car accident. If any party is injured in a car accident, they can simply file a compensation claim for their injuries and the other driver’s insurance company settles the bill. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident, and there is no need to prove who was to blame. The clear benefit here is that the lengthy process of legally establishing who was at fault is completely avoided, and the claim is sure to be paid—and more quickly, as guilt does not have to be established before money is paid out. Another upside is that car insurance tends to be cheaper. The downside is that the injured driver cannot pursue legal action for further compensation to cover any additional damage. This means that any expenses outside of medical bills—like loss of earnings—are not covered and there is no way of getting any compensation for this.

California is an at-fault state. In at-fault states, an injured party from a car accident can still make a claim to the other party’s insurance. But things don’t have to end there. Californian drivers can then sue for additional damages to cover extra expenses. In an at-fault state, the insurance company of the “at-fault” party pays for the damages sustained—this may be proportionate to the level of blame assigned to each driver in more complex cases. The motorist deemed to have caused the accident may disagree with this and take legal action to contest the payout or even seek damages themselves.

Drivers in California can take out MedPay, or medical payments coverage. This covers medical bills and other expenses for motorists and passengers no matter who is deemed at fault for the accident. This is an optional insurance add-on available as part of any vehicle insurance policy offered in the state.

Victims of car accidents in at-fault states such as California can seek compensation for other expenses in addition to medical bills, such as loss of earnings, rehabilitation and physiotherapy, childcare, domestic help during recovery, and pain and suffering. If you’d like to pursue a personal injury case after being involved in an auto accident anywhere on California’s roads, our experienced car accident lawyers can meet with you in person anywhere from the Delta Valley to Vallejo. We can also arrange a video call or you can take our free quiz to establish if you have a case.

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