Every driver in the state has a duty of care to operate their vehicle responsibly and avoid hitting other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians they encounter. When a car accident occurs for any reason, state law dictates that the party at fault for causing the accident is responsible for the damages they have inflicted on others involved in the collision. If you cause an accident, it is natural to worry about how much the victim could take from you and the scope of your liability for their damages.
Under California law, if you are responsible for causing a car accident, you are responsible for repaying any damages you inflicted. This rule applies whether you caused the accident through negligence or a simple mistake made in good faith or if you caused it through intentional and illegal misconduct, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. State law requires you to have auto insurance, but if this does not fully cover the victim’s losses, you will be personally responsible for damages your insurance can’t cover.
Legal Proceedings After a Car Accident
A Sacramento car accident attorney can be an invaluable resource whether you have recently been injured in an accident someone else caused or if you caused an accident yourself. A good attorney can help you understand the legal proceedings that are likely to follow the incident and what you can expect in terms of recovering your losses or liability for damages you must repay to another party.
California law requires every driver to have at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person, $30,000 or more in total accident liability coverage, and at least $5,000 to cover property damage in their auto insurance policy. If you cause an accident with another driver, you must provide them with your insurance details so they can file a claim for compensation. Depending on how you caused the accident and the terms of your specific policy, you could see your insurance premium increase in response to your causing the accident.
After the insurance company has paid out a settlement to the claimant, they may decide to pursue further legal action with a personal injury claim. This will allow them to recover compensation for damages not covered by auto insurance. If you are sued with a civil claim by an injured driver, you could face liability for immediate and future medical expenses, lost wages from the inability to work, property losses not covered by your insurance, and their pain and suffering.
It’s typically beneficial for an at-fault driver to seek a swift settlement when another driver brings a civil claim against them, especially if they are clearly liable for the situation. Do not make the mistake of thinking that pressing for litigation will benefit you as a judge may decide you owe much more than you would have paid in settlement. Consult an experienced attorney who can represent you and help reach the fairest possible outcome to your impending civil case.
Q: How Much Can Someone Sue for in a Car Accident Case?
A: Insurance is typically the first option for recovering your losses from an unexpected car accident. However, if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or their insurance cannot fully compensate the victim’s losses, the victim can file a civil suit to seek compensation for all outstanding damages. Under state law, the victim of a personal injury has the right to seek full compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Car Accident Lawsuit?
A: The time required to complete any civil claim for damages in California depends on whether the defendant accepts liability for their actions, the scope of the harm done to the plaintiff, and the total amount of compensation the plaintiff is seeking from the defendant. If the parties involved are willing to settle the case, it may only take a few weeks, but if litigation is necessary, this will take much longer to resolve.
Q: Will a Driver Go to Jail for Causing a Car Accident?
A: If a driver caused an accident through negligence or failure to meet a duty of care, they are unlikely to face criminal charges. However, if they caused the accident by driving under the influence (DUI) or any other illegal misconduct, criminal charges are all but certain. Penalties for breaking laws increase significantly when this behavior causes bodily harm or death. Your attorney can advise you as to how a criminal case from the state could impact your recovery efforts after an accident.
Q: Do I Need to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
A: If another driver injured you in an accident they caused, an experienced attorney can significantly improve the quality of your recovery when you pursue compensation for your losses. In the event you caused the accident, you will likely face legal recourse from the driver you hit, so hiring a defense attorney is a good idea if you want to minimize the damages you need to pay to the plaintiff.
Q: What Happens When Drivers Share Fault for an Accident?
A: It is possible for liability to be contested in a car accident claim, and once the facts are revealed to all parties involved, it may turn out that both drivers share liability for the incident. California follows the pure comparative negligence rule, so when more than one driver shares fault for an accident, each liable party will have a fault percentage assigned to them. If a plaintiff holds partial liability for their accident, the percentage is subtracted from their case award, and they keep the remainder of the damages sought from the defendant.
Ultimately, any car accident has the potential to raise difficult legal questions for the drivers involved. If you recently experienced a car accident due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of another driver, you need an experienced attorney who can help you recover as fully as possible. Contact Kreeger Law Firm to learn more about the professional legal services we offer to car accident victims and start working toward your recovery.