How To Determine Fault In A Car Accident in California

How To Determine Fault In A Car Accident in California

Written by Dennis Grossman

Attorney Dennis Grossman has managed thousands of cases, obtaining millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for his clients.

After you have been involved in a car crash, there are going to be many questions on your mind:

  • Who is responsible? 
  • Who will pay my car repairs, my rental, and my medical bills? 
  • How will I get those damages from the responsible party, and by when?
  • Can I do anything to improve my chances of getting the compensation that I deserve?

We recommend that you consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your car accident personal injury case.

Determining Fault

In order to determine who is liable for the car accident, you must know who is legally at fault in the first place. It’s important to understand that there needs to be sufficient evidence to prove fault and that different parties may determine fault using different methods.   It’s best to speak with a California car accident attorney about your case and compensation that you could recover. Here is some general information to help you understand the process a little better.

At the scene of the accident

A responding officer will likely interview everyone who is involved in the accident as well as witnesses to try to come up with the most accurate account of what caused the crash. In most instances, they will then write that into their official report and may include their professional opinion of who they believe was at fault for the accident.  

Proving Negligence

In order to receive any damages, it is up to the injured party or their personal injury attorney to establish negligence.  When drivers receive their driver’s license and sign it, they agree to obey the rules of the road. All drivers have a duty to operate their car safely using a standard of care that any reasonable person would use when in the same situation. That means that each driver must use a reasonable amount of caution whenever they are driving their car and abstain from any decisions that would jeopardize others.

The role of the personal injury attorney in a car accident case is to establish that the other driver somehow acted negligently or recklessly behind the wheel. They must then prove that these actions, or this breach of duty by the driver, caused the accident, leading directly to the victim’s injuries and damages.

What do I do after a car accident?

It is important to keep in mind the things you must do immediately after a car accident.

Move to a position of safety. If you exit your vehicle, watch for cars driving by. If warranted, call 911 to get emergency services to respond to the scene. The dispatcher will need to know your location, a description of the vehicles involved, and the types of injuries. Answer their questions as best as you’re able. Follow the advice of the first responders.  If you’re able, take photos or a video of the geographical location, the vehicle damage, any injuries, and anything else of relevance. 

If you are approached by the other driver’s insurance company adjuster, you must be aware that anything that you say could be used against your case. Before having any discussions with the other parties insurance company, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney or call the Grossman Law Offices. 

Frequently Asked Questions

This section provides general information based on the common types of questions that the Grossman Law Office attorneys receive from clients. If you need personalized and competent legal counsel, call Grossman Law Offices about your rights and responsibilities in a car accident case.

I was injured in the accident. Can I still receive compensation even though I may share some of the responsibility for the accident?

You may be able to receive some sort of compensation even though you may have been partially responsible for the accident.  In cases where you are awarded money for your personal injury, it will be reduced by the amount that you were responsible for the accident. 

To illustrate in an example, if the other person was found to be 85% at fault for the car crash, then your award for your injuries would be reduced by 15%. That means if your total injuries and damages came to the amount of $20000, then you would receive $17000 because 15% of 20000 is $3000.

What are California’s seatbelt laws, and do they affect my case?

In the state of California, both passengers and drivers must wear a seat belt at all times while the vehicle is in motion. Sometimes, victims of car accidents worry that if they were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, they might not be entitled to full compensation from the at-fault party. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will receive no compensation. Instead, your settlement may be reduced by the amount of fault that you share for your injuries. 

How Grossman Law Offices Helps Car Accident Victims

At Grossman Law Offices, our attorneys fight for full and fair compensation for our clients. Give us a call today to schedule your free case evaluation.