Is California a No Fault Auto Insurance State?

Is California a No Fault Auto Insurance State?

In brief, California does not operate under a no-fault system for auto accidents.

In this scenario, the individual found responsible, commonly referred to as the “at-fault” party, is obligated to cover the costs associated with injuries and property damage stemming from the accident.

Consequently, California is considered an at-fault state.

An image illustration of Is California a No Fault Auto Insurance State
Is California a No Fault Auto Insurance State
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How No-Fault Laws Operate in California

In California, the functioning of no-fault laws involves individuals injured in car accidents relying on their own car insurance policies to claim damages up to a specific monetary limit.

Their auto insurance typically provides personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which reimburses them for medical expenses.

PIP coverage is mandatory in most no-fault states, and usually, individuals cannot file claims against the party responsible for the accident.

However, in specific situations, one might be permitted to sue the at-fault party if their injuries surpass a certain monetary threshold or the state classifies their injuries as catastrophic.

Additionally, the handling of property damage claims in no-fault states can differ, contingent on the state.

Some may require individuals to file property damage claims with their own insurance providers under their collision coverage.

While others might permit claims to be filed under the at-fault driver’s policy.

How Auto Insurance Works in a Fault State Like California

In fault states such as California, individuals possess the right to sue one another for injuries and property damage incurred in car accidents.

Initially, they must go through the liability insurance coverage of the at-fault party.

If the liability policy’s coverage is insufficient to cover their expenses, they have the option to directly sue the responsible person.

In fault states, law enforcement determines the party accountable for the accident and documents it in a report.

The party not at fault then initiates a claim with the auto insurance company of the at-fault party.

The insurance company relies on the police report and any additional evidence, such as witness statements or other documentation.

To establish the percentage of fault assigned to the policyholder and proceeds to negotiate a claim payout.

Comparative Negligence in California

Comparative negligence, a key concept in California.

It implies that all parties involved in a car accident can bear some degree of responsibility for the collision.

Thus impacting the amount of compensation in insurance claims.

Auto insurance companies evaluate the facts and evidence to determine each party’s percentage of fault for the accident.

For instance, if the insurer concludes that the injured person was 20% at fault, they would reduce the payout by 20%.

Similarly, in cases that go to trial, a jury assesses the percentage of fault for each party, and any jury award for damages is diminished accordingly.

An image illustration of California a No Fault Insurance State
California a No Fault Insurance State
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Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in California

In California, drivers are obligated to maintain a specific minimum level of liability insurance

It serves to compensate others for injuries or property damage in the event of an accident.

The current minimum requirements are as follows:

  • $15,000 coverage for bodily injury to one person.
  • $30,000 for bodily injury per accident.
  • $5,000 for property damage.

These prescribed amounts represent the legally mandated insurance minimums for California drivers.

It is also advisable to carry some degree of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance for your vehicle.

What to Do Following a Car Accident in California

In the event of a car accident in California, your primary concern should be ensuring the safety of yourself and your passengers while attending to any injuries.

If necessary, contact 911 for medical assistance, otherwise, reach out to the police.

Gather the contact information of all parties involved or any witnesses and obtain driver’s license numbers, insurance policy details, and license plate numbers.

If feasible, take photographs of the accident scene and any damages.

Notify your insurance company about the accident and subsequently contact the at-fault party’s insurance provider to initiate a claim.

Secure a copy of the police report and maintain records of any medical treatments or repair estimates.

Lastly, it is advisable to promptly contact a personal injury attorney.


California is not a no-fault auto insurance state.

Unlike no-fault states, where individuals involved in accidents typically file claims with their own insurance companies, California follows a fault-based system.

This means that the party responsible for the accident, often referred to as the “at-fault” party, is required to cover the resulting injuries and property damage.

While no-fault insurance systems exist in some U.S. states, California does not adhere to this model.

As a result, the at-fault party’s liability plays a central role in determining the outcome of insurance claims and legal proceedings in the event of an auto accident.

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