Car insurance is complicated, especially when each state has its own method of distributing fault and insurance coverage. With so many different kinds of car insurance systems, many Californians aren’t quite sure how it works or what having more fault means for their recovery. For that reason, we’ve put together this guide explaining everything you need to know about California’s car insurance system.
Pure Contributory Negligence
California currently uses the “pure contributory negligence” system of car insurance. That means in most car crashes, each driver is assigned a percentage amount of fault, adding up to a total of 100%.
Whereas some states prevent the “at fault” driver (whoever holds more than 50% of the fault) from claiming damages, California allows both drivers to recover compensation in most cases.
However, there is an important caveat. The insurance company will reduce your appraised damages in proportion to your amount of assigned fault. That sounds complicated, but it’s fairly straightforward. Let’s look at some examples to elaborate.
Jose is in a car crash and is seriously injured. The insurance company and his attorney determine that Jose suffered $100,000 in damages. However, his settlement will be reduced according to his fault.
- If Jose is found 0% responsible, he is awarded the full $100,000
- If Jose is found 50% responsible, his damages are reduced to $50,000
- If Jose is found 99% responsible for the crash, he would receive $1,000.
This system allows almost anyone to recover damages, but it raises a frightening question: How is fault determined?
Car accident insurance is a complex topic. If you need professional legal advice, speak to an attorney at Ayala, Morgan & Buzzard.