California requires drivers to carry car insurance in case they get into an accident that causes daños. But not everyone follows the rules, not all insurance policies are created equal, and insurance providers care more about profits than paying out claims.
Most of us assume or hope that our insurance will cover our injuries and any property damage to our cars after an accident. Unfortunately, insurance companies commonly use tricks and underhanded tactics to pay out less on your claim than you truly deserve. You may have to read the fine print of your policy – and that can be nearly impossible to understand.
How Does Car Insurance Work After an Accident in California?
California is an at-fault state, which means that under the law, whoever is responsible for causing the accident is also responsible for the consequences that result.
California car insurance has different types of coverage, including:
- Liability coverage pays for injuries or property damage in a crash where you are at fault – everyone in California is required to carry liability coverage
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your car even if you’re at fault
- Personal injury protection (PIP) pays for medical bills and lost income because of injuries you suffer in the crash, even if you’re at fault
- Uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) covers your damages even if you get into a crash caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist who cannot cover their liability
Because California insurance claims are paid out based on who’s at fault, insurance companies have a limited time – up to 40 days – to determine fault.
Once you know who’s at fault, Instead of filing a claim with your insurance company to cover your injuries and damages, you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Who Pays for a Car Accident in California?
Whoever is at fault in a California car accident is responsible for paying for that accident.
But what if multiple people are at fault? California is a comparative fault state, which means that everyone pays according to their amount of fault.
Por ejemplo, in a car accident case with $100,000 in damages:
- If you have no fault in the crash, then you can recover 100% or $100,000 in damages
- If you’re 25% at fault, you can recover up to 75% or $75,000 in damages
- If you’re 50% at fault, you can recover up to 50% or $50,000 in damages
- If you’re 75% at fault, you can recover up to 25% or $25,000 in damages
- If you are 100% at fault, you cannot recover any damages from the other drivers
Once your insurance company determines who’s at fault, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Depending on the company and the driver’s policy, you could get a full payout on your claim. But in many cases, especially those involving severe injuries such as lesiones cerebrales traumáticas, the insurance policy may not even begin to cover the full extent of your losses and expenses. At that point, you can interponer una demanda.
When Can You Sue for a Car Accident in California?
So you filed a claim, but the insurance payout falls short of the actual effect of the accident and your injuries on your life. You may have lost weeks of income or you may be facing months of physical therapy. You may suffer physical pain every day when you move. All of that can profoundly impact your quality of life for years – and your liquidación should reflect that.
If you still have unpaid damages even after the insurance company has paid out your claim, then you can sue the person responsible for causing the accident.
These types of lawsuits are called demandas por lesiones personales. A abogado de lesiones personales who has experience with car accident cases can help you with this process.
How Long Do You Have to Settle a Car Accident in California?
There is no state deadline for filing an accident claim with your insurance company – that timeline depends on the terms of your specific policy. Your insurance company may give you anywhere between 30 to 90 days to report your accident – other policies might require that accidents are reported “promptly,” “as soon as possible,” or “within a reasonable time.” Once you file, your insurance company must settle your claim within 85 days.
If you want to file a reclamación por daños personales after your accident, you have 2 años from the date your accident occurred. This deadline is called the prescripción.
Unfortunately, if you miss these deadlines, you could lose the chance to recover compensation for your claim forever. That’s why it’s important to talk to a lawyer about your case soon after your accident. You could be entitled to much more than you realize, especially if the insurance company you’re dealing with is trying to minimize or deny your claims.
How Long Does It Take To Get Money After a Settlement in California?
In a successful case, you could settle a claim with the insurance company, settle a personal injury lawsuit with the at-fault driver, or win a judgment against the at-fault driver in court.
As soon as the settlement or judgment has been signed and finalized, you can expect to get your settlement check from the insurance company or the defendant in 4-6 weeks.
Should You Get a Lawyer for Your Car Accident?
The insurance claims process can get complicated – even more so when insurance companies are less interested in helping you and more interested in denying your claims. Without a lawyer on your side, you face a major power imbalance against a large insurer. Having a lawyer on your side shows insurance companies you are serious about your case.
En California, establishing fault y cálculo de daños y perjuicios are critical to getting compensation after a car accident. A good lawyer will help you get the evidence you need to prove your case and fight for you to get the full recovery you deserve. Your lawyer can also cut through any delay tactics so that you get paid on time.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, your case consultation is free and we take car accident cases on a honorarios condicionales – so you don’t pay us unless we win your case for you. Póngase en contacto con nosotros to get a better idea of what you should expect in your specific case.