What If I’m Partially At Fault for a Car Accident in California?

What If I’m Partially At Fault for a Car Accident?

Partially at fault can seek compensation
Imagine you are running late for work and you go over the posted speed limit. As you speed through a yellow light at an intersection, a driver runs a red light and hits you. Both you and the other driver are at fault to varying degrees. 

Even if you are partially at fault for an auto accident, that doesn’t mean you can’t file a car accident claim and seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. Accident victims in California have the legal right to obtain compensation for their damages, as long as they are not 100% responsible. 


Understanding Comparative Negligence

California and 12 other states follow a pure comparative negligence system when it comes to determining fault after car accidents. Also known as comparative fault, it is a legal principle that allows a person to recover damages even if they are 99% at fault.

However, their recovery will be reduced according to their percentage of fault. Take a look at the following examples. 

30% at fault$100,000 in damages$70,000 settlement
15% at fault$20,000 in damages$17,000 settlement

California law differs from other states that follow a modified comparative negligence rule or a contributory negligence law. In these states, you are either barred from recovering damages if you are 51% at fault, or barred completely if you are even 5% at fault. 


How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident?

Partial fault contributory negligence
A police officer may establish fault following a collision investigation, and auto insurance companies can also make this determination. 

When officers arrive at the accident scene, they will interview both parties as well as any witnesses. Then, they will complete the police report and decide who was at fault. In their report, they may mention the vehicle code violation. If one or both drivers were speeding, they would be cited for violating California Vehicle Code 22350

After the police report, the insurance company will conduct their own investigation. They will look at the property damage to the vehicles and the police report, as well speak to all parties involved. 

If fault is disputed by one or both parties or the insurance company’s investigation is inconclusive, a lawyer can assist in determining fault. They will use existing evidence as well as pursue their own investigation into the accident. 


Will My Car Insurance Rates Be Affected?

How much fault from the other party
In California, if you’re at fault in a car crash, it’s likely that your car insurance rates will increase. On average, drivers may see their rates go up by about $80 per month for full coverage after an accident.

The exact increase can vary depending on factors such as your driving history, the severity of the accident, and your insurance company’s policies. It’s important to understand your insurance policy and ask if they offer any safe-driving programs or accident forgiveness. 

If you are not at fault for the accident, your insurance rate should not go up. Under California traffic laws, an insurer cannot increase your premiums when you are not “principally at fault.” 


What To Do After a Car Accident 

Personal injury at fault party
An auto accident can happen within a matter of seconds, leaving you with little time to react. If you are involved in a collision, here are some important steps you should take to protect yourself and your legal rights. 

1. Move out of harm’s way and call 911

Ensure your safety and the safety of others. If possible, move to a safe location and call 911 immediately. Cooperate with the authorities and seek medical attention if you are injured. Keep copies of your medical bills to serve as evidence of your injuries.

2. Exchange information 

Swap contact and insurance details with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Get their name, address, phone number, insurance company info, license plate number, and driver’s license number. 

3. Take photos or videos

Document the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any injuries to support your insurance claim. 

4. Do not admit fault to the other driver’s insurance company

Be cautious with what you say to an insurance adjuster. Admitting partial fault can affect your insurance claim and legal rights.

5. Tell your insurance company 

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Again, do not admit to fault or discuss details of the accident.

6. Contact a personal injury attorney

Consider consulting a lawyer to help navigate the legal aspects of your accident. Most lawyers offer free consultations. 


A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Even If You’re Partially At Fault 

We handle personal injury cases
Hiring an experienced attorney gives you the peace of mind knowing your case is being dealt with properly. Even if you are partially responsible, you can reach out to a lawyer for advice on how to proceed. Personal injury attorneys are well-versed in assessing liability, insurance claims, and personal injury law. 

For the best chance at recovering maximum compensation for your lost wages and medical expenses, contact The Law Offices of Daniel Kim. Irvine car accident lawyer Daniel Kim has a 99% success rate and has helped clients recover over $300 million in settlements since opening his own firm. We always offer a free consultation and do not ask for upfront legal fees. Call us today at (949) 529-2552