Being in a car accident is no trifling matter. Of course, your first priority should always be safety. If you get involved in any car accident, it’s best to call for emergency services or medical treatment even if you think no one is injured. This is because some car accident injuries don’t manifest until a few hours or days later. The presence of an emergency medical professional will help ascertain whether anyone is actually injured or not.
That said, being involved in a car accident bears some legal responsibilities, regardless of whether you’re the victim or the one who caused the accident. In California, if there are multiple parties involved in an accident, multiple parties can also be at fault. This means each party will be held financially responsible for damages depending on the degree at which they are at fault. This is called the pure comparative negligence system, which is applied when determining the liability of more than one person involved in a personal injury claim.
Here are the legal responsibilities any driver in California has when they’re involved in a car accident:
Reporting the Accident to the Authorities
All drivers (or their representatives) involved in a car accident are required by California law to report the accident in writing to the California Highway Patrol or the local police department within 24 hours of the incident if there’s an injury or fatality. If a police officer responds to the scene and writes a report about it, you don’t need to file a separate one.
You must also make a report of the incident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of its occurrence even if there’s a police report on file. This report must be filed if:
- There were injuries (even if minor).
- There were fatalities.
- There’s property damage worth more than $750.
When filing an accident report, this typically includes the following information:
- Names and addresses of the drivers involved and anyone who was injured in the accident
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Birth date, driver’s license information, and other information about the involved motorists
- Insurance information
- Explanation of property damage and injuries
Vehicle owners are likewise required by California law to be financially responsible for accidents they’re involved in. Usually, this comes in the form of insurance.
According to California’s insurance code, all vehicles are required to be covered with a minimum of 15/30/5 insurance. This means vehicular insurance should provide a maximum coverage of the following:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
Motorists without insurance may be subject to fines or loss of driving privileges when they fail to show law enforcement proof of their insurance. This is also needed when renewing or obtaining vehicle registration documents.
Additional insurance can also be purchased to further protect yourself from lawsuits that can be filed against you when you’re involved in a car accident.
Yielding When on Highways
A lot of car accidents in California happen because drivers are not fully aware of their obligations and duties while on the road, especially when entering and exiting highways. Knowing when to yield can spell the difference between safety on the road and a collision.
When entering a highway from a private or public drive, drivers must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. When the driver ascertains that there are no disruptions to the flow of traffic, they may enter the highway. To prevent harm, other drivers must then yield to the driver who has entered the roadway.
On the other hand, drivers crossing a highway at any place other than a marked intersection must yield to traffic and pedestrians on the highway until such time that it’s safe to cross. Once the driver has begun to cross the highway, other drivers must yield to prevent a car accident.
Work With a California Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, working with this car accident lawyer in San Diego or wherever the crash happened can help you get the compensation you’re due. A qualified car accident lawyer can also help you recover faster by taking care of the complex legal process of filing a personal injury claim. They will also negotiate with your insurance company. This way, you can focus on recovery while having the best legal representation you can get for your case.