What Happens if Im at Fault in a Car Accident California?

Man admitting fault after a car crash, showing remorse with words "It's my fault"

California is an at-fault state, meaning our insurance system allows the at-fault party to be sued directly.

When we are on the road, we are expected to uphold a certain level of care and duty to those around us. However, it only takes a few moments of distraction to lead to a dangerous or deadly accident. Unfortunately, in this case, you may be the one who is accused of negligence and held liable for the accident you were involved in.

Unfortunately, recovering from a car accident claim can be costly and difficult. Fortunately, we at Text Kevin Accident Attorneys are here to help you navigate your case when you are blamed for a car accident in California. You do not have to simply accept fault and pay out of your pocket for the events of the accident.

Table of Contents

California’s Liability Laws Can Impact Your Case

According to California Code 1714, California is a fault state. That means those involved in a personal injury may be held financially responsible if they cause the accident. For you, that means that if the other driver places the blame on you for their accident injuries, you may face significant financial penalties and even a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, even a minor moment of distraction can lead to serious accidents, devastating injuries, and even fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,308 lives were lost to distracted driving in 2022 alone. Because of this, you may face significant costs if you are accused of driving distracted, drowsy, or otherwise negligent on the road.

Your Insurance Company May Be Responsible for the Payout for the Car Accident Victims

Because California is a fault state under California Code 1714, your insurance company may be responsible for paying the car accident victim’s recovery costs. California drivers are required to carry certain minimums under the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This insurance provides liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage, which can appropriately and fully cover the injured party in many cases.

However, if your insurance company does cover their recovery costs, you may see significant increases in your insurance premium. In fact, if you were also accused of driving recklessly or drunk, leading to potential moving violation charges or a criminal conviction, you may even lose your insurance coverage. If these accusations remain on your record, that can impact the costs of your insurance coverage for years or even decades.

However, insurance companies are still for-profit businesses, meaning they may try to avoid paying fully for the injury victim’s recovery. Likewise, your insurance coverage may not be enough to cover the full total of their compensation. In situations like these, you may face further issues.

You May Be Sued if You Are At Fault

Unfortunately, especially if catastrophic injuries are involved, your insurance policy may not be enough, or they may refuse to cover it. Injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, burns, and more can be more costly than your insurance policy limits. In these cases, the car accident victim may have grounds to pursue compensation in court.

In these situations, the injured party may seek compensation from their own car accident lawyer for the damages suffered. You may even be left paying out of pocket for these costs. We strive to help clients like you minimize the fees paid out of pocket or eliminate them entirely so that you are able to recover from this situation.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Regardless of fault, in the wake of an accident, you and the other party may both be injured, confused, and worried about the effects of your accident. This can be a difficult, scary situation, but taking the right steps is important to helping you avoid accepting fault and potentially reducing the value of the car accident claim. Below are a few ways you can help protect yourself and aid others in the wake of an accident.

Seek Medical Care

First, always begin by contacting emergency medical services. These medical professionals can arrive at the scene, ensure that your injuries are taken care of, and take those with severe injuries to receive care. Getting help right away can be key to avoiding dangerous, worsening injuries.

Be sure that you seek medical care even if you feel okay. Delayed injuries or injuries you do not feel because of the adrenaline rush can leave you in a worsening condition. Acting now can also protect you from accusations that your injuries are unconnected with the accident.

Report the Accident

Reporting the accident is also a requirement in many cases. An accident report must be filed within 10 days through an SR-1 report to the California DMV. If a report is not filed, you may face penalties, including fines and potential legal penalties.

You will also need to notify your insurance company of the accident, and take care with what you say. While you may believe you were partly or totally at fault for the accident, accepting the blame makes it more difficult for your personal injury lawyers to pursue a defense of your case. Remember that anything you say to the insurance company can be used against you.

Note
A car accident report must be filed if someone is injured or killed or if the property damage is more than $1,000. Even if you are not required to file, you may still do so to help strengthen your evidence.

Document As Much of the Accident Scene as Possible

If you are able, document as much of the accident as possible. This includes taking pictures, recordings, and other evidence at the scene and seeking witness testimony at the time of the accident.

Gathering evidence can help you prove that you were not at fault or that this accident was caused by shared fault. Taking this step as soon as possible is important because the accident scene is typically cleaned up as quickly as possible so other drivers can use the roadway safely. Failure to gather evidence at the scene can leave you with less evidence overall.

Record Your Physical Recovery

If you plan to countersue for your own injuries, in cases where you believe the other party was also at fault for the accident, keeping a record of your recovery process can help you get a more accurate idea of your claim’s value. This record can give you a more specific, detailed idea of the process you have gone through as you recover from your injuries. If you can pursue compensation, having this record can be crucial.

Pro Tip
Injury recovery can be like a roller coaster, with major highs and lows. Keeping an accurate record of these changes can help avoid claims from the insurance company that you are recovering faster than you actually are.

The Costs of the Accident Victim’s Recovery May Fall on You

One of the concerns that may be on your mind as you face a lawsuit is the cost of recovery for the car accident victim. They may have already accused you of negligence, and if you do not push back, you may face extensive costs for this case. We focus on helping our clients avoid significant expenses that make it difficult for them to recover.

Economic Damages

If you are held responsible for a car accident, you may find yourself paying for the financial losses the other party has faced. Those losses can include any economic suffering they have experienced, both current and future. Below is just a sample of the economic damages that can be caused by a car accident:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost income
  • Property damage
  • Transportation costs for medical care
  • Household accommodations like wheelchair ramps

Remember that the above is not a comprehensive list of damages, and you may find yourself responsible for a significant amount of economic damages for their recovery. Because these damages should cover all types of costs and expenses they have suffered, the amount may be severe. Because of this, reducing this amount with an attorney is vital to protecting your financial future.

Non-Economic Damages

The injured party may also pursue non-economic damages or pain and suffering. These damages cover the emotional and mental suffering they may have experienced because of the injuries and pain they have suffered from the accident. These damages may include anxiety, emotional trauma, and a loss of enjoyment of life.

Remember that these damages are intangible, meaning it can be difficult to fully understand their worth until the injured party calculates them with their lawyer. We focus on reducing the cost you must pay for these non-economic damages as you navigate your case. That can help prevent severe financial losses for you.

Will I Have to Pay Punitive Damages?

Sometimes, you may be concerned that you may have to pay more than these compensatory damages. For example, you may be concerned that the injured party will pursue punitive damages meant to punish the wrongdoer. Typically, damages like these are only awarded in cases where the at-fault party is grossly negligent or malicious, so you may face these charges if you are accused of driving drunk or causing the accident through road rage.

These damages are meant to deter future, similar actions, which can add to the debt you will face if you do not push back. Fortunately, it can be difficult to receive these damages, as they must be approved by the judge. We can provide a strong defense, showing that you should not face severe penalties.

What Happens if the Car Accident Is Fatal?

Unfortunately, your accident may have been fatal for another driver or passenger. In these cases, you may have a more complex case, called a wrongful death claim, ahead of you. In these cases, the deceased’s family may have grounds to finally lawsuit against you.

Compensation is due to the family to cover the compensation due for the expenses, such as the burial and funeral expenses, as well as the grief and suffering of the family. This can be costly, as The Federal Trade Commission has found that the average price of funeral services is thousands of dollars, especially if the family opts for a traditional, full-service funeral.

Fortunately, you still have opportunities to defend your claim and potentially avoid the extensive costs of compensation. Even in a wrongful death claim, you still have a right to defend yourself, and we are here to help. We are here to aid you in finding the best defense possible when facing any type of car accident claim, and we can help you identify potential avenues for compensation.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Navigate Your Case and Potentially Lower the Costs of Your Accident

When you are accused of causing an accident, you may have difficulties pursuing a strong defense for your case alone. Even if you believe you may be to blame for the accident, you may still have grounds to reduce the costs you face. Fortunately, we are here to help clients like you navigate these claims.

When you are accused of fault in a car accident, proving that you were not at fault at all or that you were only partly at fault is vital to protecting your claim’s future. We are here to help gather all evidence possible to help you reduce the costs you may pay if found negligent or dismiss these costs entirely. With this evidence on your side, you may have more opportunities to avoid more significant losses.

We are also here to help you pursue action if you believe the other party is partly or completely at fault. In some cases, you may have been blamed for the accident, but that does not necessarily mean you caused it. We can provide an aggressive defense in the courtroom to reduce the impact of accusations of fault on your future, including countersuing and other options.

Tip
While you are allowed to file a claim without legal aid, that can be a costly mistake. Missteps are easy, but it only takes a single misstep to lose your case.

Our Dedicated, Personalized Approach at Our Car Accident Law Firm Can Help You Even If You Are Being Held Liable for an Accident

When you are accused of causing a car accident in California, you may be worried about the ongoing penalties you may face if you accept fault. Those penalties can impact you financially for years to come, leaving you struggling to overcome the devastating losses you may have also suffered in the accident. To protect yourself and your financial status, you may need the help of our dedicated, experienced car accident attorneys.

At Text Kevin Accident Attorneys, we offer dedication and focus for clients like you, who may need help navigating accusations of fault. Attorney Kevin Crockett and the rest of our team are prepared to pursue evidence for your case, negotiate with the other party, and defend you aggressively in the courtroom. When you need help like our past clients, contact us for a free consultation to learn more about our services by calling or filling out our online contact form.

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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