| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accidents

Getting into a car accident is stressful enough, but it’s even worse when you find out you’re considered at fault. Of course, the stress intensifies when you realize that, as the at-fault party, you might be responsible for damages from the accident. If you’re unsure what to do or what happens next, don’t worry! This blog will explain the legal and financial consequences of being at fault in a California car accident and how to navigate the situation. 

If you finish this blog with questions about what happens if I’m at fault in a car accident in California? We encourage you to call us. Even if you’re considered at fault in a car accident, you still have legal rights. We can help you understand those rights and options. Call or contact Frederick Law Firm online to discuss your case.

What Does It Mean to Be “at Fault” in California?

California is a “fault state” when it comes to car accidents. This means the driver who caused the accident is financially responsible for the damages. Determining fault can involve the police report, witness statements, and evidence from the scene.

Just because the other driver blames you for the accident doesn’t automatically make it your fault under legal standards. California follows a system called “comparative fault,” which means the percentage of fault assigned to each driver determines their share of the financial responsibility. For example, if you’re found to be 1% at fault and the other driver is 99% at fault, you’d be responsible for only 1% of the damages.

So how does this impact you overall? As the example explains, even if you share some blame, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re on the hook for everything. Understanding comparative fault and how evidence may be applicable can take some experience. This highlights the importance of consulting with an accident attorney to ensure a fair assessment of fault.

What Happens After a Car Accident Where I’m at Fault in California? 

Several events typically happen after a car accident where you’re considered at fault: 

  • Insurance. The other driver’s insurance company will likely contact your insurance company. They will investigate the accident and determine how much you’re responsible for paying. 
  • Claims. The other drivers involved might file a claim against your insurance policy to cover their car repairs, medical bills, and other damages. 
  • Lawsuit. In some cases, the other drivers might sue you directly, especially if the damages are significant or you don’t have insurance.

While these are the most common events, there could be other considerations depending on the specifics of the accident. For example, if the accident involved injuries to pedestrians or cyclists, there might be additional legal repercussions. In rare cases, criminal charges could be filed if the accident is deemed intentional or involves driving under the influence. Consulting with an attorney can help you navigate issues such as these.

What Are the Financial Consequences of Being at Fault?

Being at fault in a car accident can have a major impact on your wallet in more than one way. Here’s how:

  • Out-of-pocket costs. If your insurance coverage doesn’t cover all the damages, you might be responsible for paying the rest out of your own pocket. This can include car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages for yourself and the other driver.
  • Insurance premiums. Your insurance company might raise your rates if you’re found at fault. This is because they now see you as a higher risk driver. 

While the above are common consequences, the specifics will depend on your insurance coverage and the accident’s severity. Speaking with an attorney can help you understand your financial obligations. 

Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Was My Fault?

If an accident was your fault and you are insured, the insurance company will have its own lawyer to defend against a liability claim. However, there are some circumstances where it still may be a good idea to have your own lawyer:

  • You are uninsured. If you don’t have insurance, then anyone you may have injured won’t be able to file an insurance claim. Instead, they may sue you directly, and you will need a lawyer to build a strong defense strategy and protect your assets. 
  • You also suffered injuries and there are disagreements about who is at fault. If you suffered an injury, you may want to file a claim for compensation against the other driver. If you’re not sure who is at fault or if you think the other driver may be at least partially at fault, an attorney can help you seek compensation for a portion of your own injuries.
  • Your insurance company is not representing your interests. Your liability insurer has an obligation to pay for liability claims against you. If they are refusing to pay up and the injured party is threatening a lawsuit, you may want to consider consulting an attorney to protect your interests and encourage your insurer to negotiate in good faith. 

Consulting an attorney early on can help prevent future complications and ensure a more favorable outcome. 

What Happens if I’m at Fault in a Car Accident in California? Let Frederick Law Firm Help

Thinking you may be at fault for a car accident can be scary, but understanding the potential consequences can help you prepare. While this blog provides a basic overview, you may still have questions about your specific situation.

If you’re still wondering, What happens if I’m at fault in an auto accident in California? the next step is to get professional legal advice. For four decades, the team at Frederick Law Firm has stood up for our clients because they’re not just clients—they’re family. Our extensive experience includes winning multi-million-dollar settlements. Although outcomes can vary, we commit the same level of dedication to every case we handle. 

Frederick Law Firm is here to help you navigate this challenging time and mitigate the consequences of being at fault.

Call or contact us online to discuss your case and get the advice you need.

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