California is the most populous state in the nation, which unquestionably adds to the number of car accidents that occur across the state. Furthermore, California is home to Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest metropolis. Due to the high number of cars and drivers in California, the state as a whole is a national accident hotspot.
For instance, the California Highway Patrol estimates that over 150,000 vehicle wrecks yearly in the Golden State result in injuries, and 2,800 accidents result in fatalities.
Of course, being aware of the most prevalent causes and how Costa Mesa’s traffic laws affect auto accident cases is essential, given that collisions are so common in Orange County and California.
Accident Reporting Requirements in California
First and foremost, keep in mind that any motorist involved in a collision should stop and help those who are hurt. If someone has been hurt and needs emergency medical attention or police intervention, dial 911. You might be prosecuted with hit-and-run and face harsh repercussions if you don’t stop.
If an accident results in injury or death, a California motorist has 24 hours to file a written report with the California Highway Patrol or the local police department. Someone else may report the collision if the driver is too injured to do so. If a law enforcement official comes to the accident site, their written report satisfies the driver’s responsibilities. That’s the norm when it comes to serious accidents.
Another California law mandates that drivers who cause injury, death, or property damage above $1,000 must file a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days.
If you are involved in a car accident and do not file an SR 1 form or have liability insurance, your license will be suspended. Moreover, referencing an accident report at a later date can help you establish accident fault.
Auto Insurance Requirements in California
In California, motorists are required by law to maintain liability coverage limits on their vehicles. The minimums are:
- Property damage/repairs at $5,000.
- Injury/death to one person at $15,000.
- Multiple injuries and deaths at $30,000.
In 2025, these base requirements will rise dramatically. The frequency of incidents when the insurance coverage is insufficient to pay the expenses of the accident, known as “underinsured accidents,” is something that has to be reduced.
Raising these thresholds, however, may make insurance costly for certain people, which in turn raises the likelihood of encountering uninsured motorists.
Cyclist and Pedestrian Traffic Laws
The safety of pedestrians and cyclists on California roads is becoming an increasingly pressing issue. As a result, the law is providing greater safeguards and rights to those who are more vulnerable when using the road.
If a pedestrian is not acting recklessly, police officers in California are prohibited from issuing a penalty for jaywalking under the California Vehicle Code. However, pedestrians are still encouraged to use caution.
There will be several improvements for cyclists. By 2024, for instance, pedestrian walk crossings will be open to bikes. Overtaking a bicycle now requires vehicle drivers to switch lanes (if one is available) rather than just allowing them three feet of space. Violation of these traffic laws can ultimately affect the proportion of fault assigned should an auto accident claim be filed with an insurance company or go to court.
Auto Accident and Traffic Laws in California
A statute of limitations is a state legislation that establishes certain time constraints on a person’s right to bring about a lawsuit. Typically, you have between two and three years from the date of the injury you incurred to fule a lawsuit.
If you don’t file your lawsuit within that time frame, you probably won’t be able to get recompense, so keep that in mind at all times.
Comparative Negligence in California
Whether or whether you were partially at fault for your automobile accident, which can revolve around your adherence to local traffic laws, will have a big impact on your claim.
In a “pure comparative negligence” jurisdiction, your degree of fault in an accident has no bearing on whether or not you may sue the other driver and get compensation. If you are found partially at fault, however, your financial recovery will be reduced proportionally.
In order to determine the potential value of your personal injury claim, insurance adjusters and courts in California will use the doctrine of comparative negligence.
To further illustrate the concept of comparative negligence, here is an example of the violation of traffic laws tying into a fault determination: Imagine a vehicle made an improper lane change and crashed into your vehicle’s side. However, the police report on your accident indicates that your speed was somewhat excessive.
Let’s say your lawsuit goes to court and the opposing party refuses to negotiate a settlement. The court rules that you are 20% responsible for the collision and the other driver is 80% at fault. You may only sue the other motorist for 80% of your losses (medical expenses, car repairs, missed wages, etc.) up to a maximum of $8,000.
Call Beckerman Anderson in Orange County
All too often, automobile accidents that result in serious injuries are disastrous. Victims are left to worry about who will cover their medical expenditures or how their families will be supported throughout their recovery.
Thankfully, a legal team specializing in personal injury throughout Orange County can provide crucial guidance about the aftermath of a crash and prepare your case. Auto accident lawsuits are now the most popular kind of personal injury case in our courts, and our team at Beckerman Anderson is well-versed in these types of claims. Our team can review Costa Mesa’s traffic laws, as well as California’s traffic and auto laws, and the effect of these laws on your eventual car accident claim.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a vehicle accident, do not hesitate to seek counsel from attorneys specializing in auto accident cases to safeguard your legal interests. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our Orange County-area auto accident attorneys can be reached at 949-409-4242 for a free first consultation and review of your accident claim.