28 May 2019,

California Auto Insurance Claims Laws


Drivers in California need to have insurance in the event of a motor vehicle crash. This covers their own injuries or losses.

In addition, a driver must have insurance that can provide coverage for others injured in the collision. This applies when that driver was at fault.

Yet filing a car accident claim can have extreme complications. So can negotiating a reasonable settlement with an auto insurance company.

When you are involved in a car accident in California, it is extremely important to learn more about California auto insurance claims laws. These help yo understand your options when filing a claim for compensation.

Instead of searching for information with terms like “California auto insurance laws accident,” you should get in touch with an experienced California car accident lawyer who can assist you with your claim.

Filing a Claim: First-Party Versus Third-Party Claims

Under California law, California is known as a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents. In “fault” states, drivers are financially liable for any injuries or other damage resulting from car crashes they cause.

In a “fault” state like California, a person who suffers injuries in a collision by another driver’s negligence has a couple of choices when it comes to filing an auto insurance claim:

File a first-party claim

  • A first-party claim is a claim filed with your own insurance company under the terms of your policy. If you choose to file a first-party claim, you will be responsible for paying your deductible, although you may be able to recoup the deductible later on through subrogation. There are some benefits to filing a first-party claim. Frequently, first-party claims tend to move more quickly than third-party claims. First-party claims can also be beneficial when you are in a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Especially if the responsible party does not have enough insurance to cover the total costs of your losses. However, there are limitations to filing a first-party claim, too. Paying the deductible up front can be frustrating, and filing a claim through your own insurance company may affect your premiums.

File a third-party claim

  • A third-party claim is a type of auto insurance claim filed through the negligent driver’s insurance company. In “no fault” states, drivers often do not have the option to file a third-party claim. Since California is a “fault” state, anyone with injuries from a collision can file a third-party claim to obtain compensation. When you file a third-party claim, you are not responsible for paying a deductible (or for any costs associated with filing the claim). However, third-party claims can take longer than first-party claims. Also you can run into difficulties if the negligent driver is underinsured.

If you are unable to obtain full compensation for your losses through an auto insurance claim, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver in order to obtain compensation.

Required Insurance Under California Law

California requires their drivers to have car insurance. Under California law, the following are liability coverage requirements:

● $15,000 for the death or injury of a single person;

● $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person (the injured people share up to $30,000); and

● $5,000 for property damage.

As you might imagine, the above minimum liability limits are not very high. In the event that a reckless or distracted driver causes a collision, the total losses could add up to significantly more than the liability limits above. Drivers can purchase more than the minimum requirements. Also, they do not have to do so in order to drive lawfully on the roads in California.

How Limits Can Affect Your Auto Insurance Claim

When a driver causes more damage than his or her liability coverage can cover, the person with injuries (or people) typically does not get complete compensation for their losses.

For example, a distracted driver can cause a severe accident involving another vehicle. If the driver and two passengers in that vehicle have significant injuries, it is unlikely that the total cost of hospital bills is under $30,000.

Unless that distracted driver has more liability coverage than the requirements by California law, those injured people would need to seek alternate options for obtaining full compensation.

One way to obtain compensation when auto insurance liability limits prevent full coverage is by filing a car accident lawsuit.

Contact a California Auto Insurance Claims Attorney

Do you need assistance with your car accident claim? Whether you are just starting the process of filing a claim, need help appealing a denied claim, or want information about filing a car accident lawsuit, an experienced California auto insurance claims lawyer at our firm can help. Contact Levinson Law Group for more information.