California is a big state, and can be an attractive place to live for a variety of people for a variety of reasons. That being said, current or future residents of California should be aware of the state’s driving laws and practices.
Fault determination rules California in car accidents, meaning the party with the greatest amount of fault for an accident, and therefore displays a lack of care in driving their vehicle, is held responsible for the accident. This is common in most automobile accident procedure, but California is unique in its determination of fault based on the principle of “negligence ‘per se’”. ‘Per se’ is the term given to circumstances where one driver in an accident had violated the California Vehicle Code, and therefore broken the law in the events leading up to the accident. This can include speeding, running red lights, unlawful u-turns, and any other legal infractions someone might make behind the wheel.
The driver that had broken the law is automatically presumed negligent, as their actions could easily be deemed unsafe regardless of the circumstances of the collision itself. In most cases, negligence is determined through the use of police reports, witness statements, any video evidence that may exist, and other possible sources of information. While this is also true in California, the ‘per se’ determination is worth keeping in mind for drivers in the Golden State.
Another factor worth noting, on a more positive note, is that California operates under “the pure comparative negligence standard”, meaning that fault and compensation can be shared in most circumstances. Even those who are majority (or majorly) at fault, can have their damage bills reduced by the percentage that the other driver shares in fault. Those who are 90% at fault for an accident can be entitled to 10% compensation for their own damage bills.
As diplomatic as the standard may be, one should also be aware that California ranks among the 5 worst states to file an insurance claim, with high rates of fluctuations on premiums after filing a $2000 case. All insurance companies are different, and vary with premiums and forgiveness, and shopping around for the best coverage is always advised. All-in-all California can be an expensive state to have an accident in, even with certain consolations.
Published on Holr Magazine