How Does Car Insurance Work in California?

Insurance was created to spread risk between a large pool of individuals. If everyone buys insurance and only a small percentage of policyholders get into car accidents, the insurer can pay for the resulting damages using the insurance premiums collected. Mission Personal Injury Lawyers can give you legal help, contact our law offices by calling (619) 777-5555.

However, insurers don’t like to pay claims, as doing so cuts into their bottom lines. Even when they have a contractual duty to pay, they may drag their feet or try to negotiate a settlement for less than the case’s value. Unfortunately, these practices are all too common in San Diego, California.

How Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help with Insurance Claims in San Diego, California

How Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help with Insurance Claims in San Diego, California

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers has been serving accident victims for over a decade. In that time, the firm’s San Diego car accident attorneys have recovered more than $10 million for its clients.

When you hire the firm to represent you, you’ll have a skilled legal team to:

  • File a lawsuit against the at-fault party if they refuse to negotiate a fair settlement
  • Investigate your accident to strengthen your claim for compensation
  • Protect you from accusations that the car accident was your fault

Some notable case results secured by the firm include:

  • $1.1 million car accident settlement
  • $275,000 Uber accident settlement
  • $205,000 car accident settlement for a knee injury

A car accident in San Diego, CA, can cause painful injuries resulting in temporary or permanent disabilities. Reach out to Mission Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss the injury compensation you can seek from the at-fault driver’s insurer.

Overview of How Car Insurance Works in California

California, like most states, uses a fault-based car insurance system. In a fault-based system, the insurer for the at-fault driver must pay the losses incurred by all the other people involved in the accident.

California’s Car Insurance Mandate

California has a car insurance mandate, meaning all car owners in California must buy auto liability insurance policies. A car owner without car insurance cannot register their vehicle.

The California DMV receives auto insurance records from auto insurers. The state can suspend your registration if an insurer informs the DMV that your car insurance policy has expired. To reinstate it, you must purchase insurance and pay the state a reinstatement fee.

If you get stopped while driving on a suspended registration, the police can issue a citation. Similarly, if your insurance policy has expired, they can cite you for driving without insurance.

Despite these enforcement measures, California has the tenth-highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the U.S. — over 16.5% of California drivers said they didn’t have car insurance in a survey conducted in 2019.

Policy Limits

The insurer sets a policy limit to cap its exposure. In California, the minimum policy limits are $15,000/$30,000. This means the insurer will pay up to:

  • $15,000 to any one injured person or
  • $30,000 for all injured people to share

If an accident injures multiple people, the insurer will pay up to $30,000 in total, with no single victim receiving more than $15,000. If an accident injures only one person, that person can receive up to $15,000.

Car Insurance Claims

A liability policy obligates the insurer to cover its policyholder’s liabilities that fall within the terms of the policy. In other words, the insurer must pay any losses incurred by others due to its policyholder’s actions.

The only losses covered by a liability policy are those incurred by other parties. These parties can include:

  • Passengers in the policyholder’s vehicle
  • Drivers and passengers in other vehicles
  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists

The policyholder cannot seek compensation under a liability policy. As such, your liability insurance won’t pay for your medical costs or lost income if you get injured in a car accident. 

To get compensation, a third party must file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurer will assign an adjuster to investigate, and they’ll have the final say over whether to approve or deny the claim.

The adjuster protects the insurer by making sure claims satisfy all relevant policy requirements. Therefore, the adjuster must agree that the policyholder incurred a liability the insurer is responsible for paying.

Proving Liability for a Car Insurance Claim

Most car accident claims use negligence to prove liability. Negligence has four elements:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Damages
  • Causation

Every driver has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care while driving. Drivers breach this duty when they do something that creates an unreasonable hazard for other road users. When someone suffers an injury, they incur damages in the form of things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.

If the claimant can show a causal connection between the breach of duty and the resulting damages, they’ve proven their claim. The insurer then might be obligated to pay those damages up to the policy limits.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our San Diego Car Accident Lawyers

Car insurance companies are the primary source of injury compensation for car accidents. Contact Mission Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a no-cost consultation and learn more about how we can help you hold insurance companies accountable after a car accident. Our San Diego car accident attorneys can help with your claim from the start to finish.