Car accidents have the potential to cause major injury or even death. This is why we have a range of laws designed to keep motorists safe on the road.
Many of these laws, such as those prohibiting speeding, are meant to promote safety by addressing drivers’ behavior and choices behind the wheel. However, the way someone drives is not the only factor that influences whether they may cause an accident. The condition of the vehicle they’re driving can also play a role in safety.
Thus, we also have car inspection laws. However, the specifics of car inspection laws can vary somewhat from one location to another.
Perhaps you live in San Diego, California. You may want to confirm you understand the car accident laws in our area. This guide will tell you what you need to know.
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Car Inspection Laws in San Diego: What You Need to Know
Car inspection laws in California are not only designed to ensure vehicles on the road are safe and in good condition. The relevant laws also ensure vehicles are not harming the environment or public health due to excessive emissions. This is particularly important in areas of California where smog can be prevalent.
Most cars in California need to be inspected every two years. It’s important to understand that California has different types of inspection stations. Some inspection stations perform both emissions tests and safety inspections.
The safety inspection involves checking your car’s various components to identify whether anything needs to be repaired for your vehicle to be safe to drive. However, some inspection stations in California only conduct emissions tests and don’t check for other safety issues. To err on the side of caution, make sure you’ve chosen a station that offers both services.
California’s inspection laws are less strict about safety tests than emissions tests, but failure to get the safety test can nevertheless have other potential legal ramifications.
Some cars are also exempt from emissions inspection requirements. They include the following:
- Cars from before 1976
- Cars six years old or newer (although the owners of such vehicles will have to pay an abatement fee every year until they are no longer exempt)
- Vehicles that weigh 14,000 pounds or more (such as commercial trucks)
- Electric cars
That said, it’s important to understand that these exemptions don’t apply in certain parts of the state. San Diego is one of those areas. This is because exemptions tend not to apply in larger cities where smog is more likely to be a problem.
When your car’s inspection is completed, if you pass, those who inspected it will report the results of the inspection to the DMV. They will usually do so through email or another electronic means so you can renew your registration as quickly and conveniently as possible.
That said, there’s no guarantee they will do so. As such, you should hold onto the physical copy of the certificate they will provide you with until you confirm the DMV has the information needed to allow you to complete the registration process.
Also, be aware that this certificate is only good for 90 days. If 90 days elapse before you renew your registration, you will have to have your car inspected again before you can complete your renewal. This highlights the importance of being vigilant in regard to scheduling biennial inspections and submitting the necessary information to the DMV by the deadline. You could face legal consequences if you drive a vehicle and are caught with an expired registration.
Why the Safety Inspection is Important in San Diego
Again, a safety inspection may not be a required component of the inspection process under California law. That said, you should still strongly consider completing it anyway when your vehicle is undergoing the emissions inspection.
The main reason is to protect yourself and those you share the road with. You don’t want to get into an accident that could have been avoided had your car been properly maintained.
Failure to maintain a safe vehicle could also potentially impact your likelihood of being fairly compensated if you’re ever in an accident. California is an at-fault state in regard to car accidents. If you’re injured in an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, you can typically seek compensation by filing a claim to collect from the negligent driver’s insurance. If this is not an option, you can file a lawsuit.
However, you must understand that insurance companies are businesses. Insurers want to minimize their financial losses.
Thus, insurance company adjusters will often look for reasons to deny claims. If they can’t, they will at least try to limit how much they have to pay.
One way they may do this is by arguing that your own negligence played a role in causing or exacerbating your injuries. California has a contributory negligence policy. Your compensation can be reduced to account for your share of fault for your accident.
For example, maybe you could have collected $10,000. However, suppose it’s determined that you were 20% to blame for your accident. Thus, you could only recover up to $8,000.
An insurer might be able to argue that this failure on your part to ensure your vehicle was safe to drive contributed to your accident happening. While this might be a slightly difficult argument to make, it is possible an insurance company could cite this point to reduce your compensation. That’s not a risk you want to take.
Contact a San Diego Car Accident Attorney for Help
If you’re seeking compensation after an accident, you need to be prepared for an insurance company to use any means they can to avoid paying you. If your car wasn’t properly inspected for safety issues, an insurer might use that against you in negotiations. The best way to protect yourself is to hire a qualified car accident attorney in San Diego. Contact Mission Personal Injury Lawyers at (619) 777-5555 for a free case evaluation today.