How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in San Diego?

how is fault determined in a car accident

When you’re involved in a car accident in San Diego, one of the most crucial questions that arise is, “Who is at fault?” Determining fault is essential, as it directly impacts how insurance claims are handled and whether you can seek compensation for damages and injuries.

At DP Injury Attorneys, we understand fault determination in California and are here to help you navigate the process.

California’s Fault-Based System

California follows a fault-based system when it comes to car accidents. This means that the driver who is found to be at fault for causing the accident is financially responsible for the resulting damages and injuries.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company is typically required to pay for the other party’s medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.

Factors Considered in Determining Fault

Several factors are considered when determining fault in a San Diego car accident. These include:

1. Traffic Law Violations

One of the primary factors in determining fault is whether any traffic laws were violated leading up to the accident. Examples of traffic law violations include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Distracted driving, such as texting or eating while behind the wheel

If a driver is found to have violated a traffic law, they are more likely to be considered at fault for the accident.

2. Negligence

Negligence is another key factor in determining fault. Negligence occurs when a driver fails to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle, resulting in an accident. Examples of negligent behavior include:

  • Failing to maintain a safe following distance
  • Not using turn signals when changing lanes or turning
  • Driving with faulty or malfunctioning equipment, such as broken taillights or worn-out brakes
  • Failing to adjust driving behavior based on weather or road conditions

If a driver is found to have acted negligently, they may be considered at fault for the accident.

3. Rear-End Collisions

In most cases, the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is considered to be at fault for the accident. This is because drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance and be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. However, there are some exceptions, such as when the lead vehicle suddenly stops or reverses without warning.

4. Left-Turn Accidents

When a car accident occurs involving a vehicle making a left turn, the turning driver is often found to be at fault. This is because vehicles making left turns are required to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and only proceed when it is safe to do so. However, if the oncoming driver was speeding or ran a red light, they may share some responsibility for the accident.

Evidence Used to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

To determine fault in a San Diego car accident, various types of evidence are collected and analyzed. This evidence may include:

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene and vehicle damage
  • Surveillance footage from nearby businesses or traffic cameras
  • Vehicle data recorders (black boxes)
  • Cell phone records to determine if distracted driving was a factor
  • Medical records and expert medical opinions

By examining this evidence, investigators can piece together a clear picture of how the accident occurred and who was responsible. The more evidence available, the easier it becomes to assign fault and ensure that the appropriate parties are held accountable.

Insurance Company Investigations

After a car accident, insurance companies will conduct their own investigations to determine fault. This process typically involves:

  1. Collecting evidence — Insurance adjusters will gather police reports, witness statements, and other relevant evidence.
  2. Interviewing involved parties — Adjusters will speak with the drivers, passengers, and witnesses to get their accounts of the accident.
  3. Analyzing the evidence — Using the collected evidence, adjusters will reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault based on traffic laws and negligence standards.
  4. Assigning fault percentages — In some cases, multiple parties may share fault for an accident. California follows a pure comparative negligence rule, which means that each party is assigned a percentage of fault, and their compensation is reduced by that percentage.

It’s important to remember that insurance companies have their own interests in mind, which may not always align with yours. That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side who can conduct an independent, unbiased investigation to ensure that fault is accurately determined and your rights are protected.

What to Do If You’re Involved in a Car Accident

If you find yourself involved in a car accident in San Diego, it’s essential to take the following steps to protect your rights and support fault determination:

  1. Ensure everyone’s safety: Check for injuries and call 911 if necessary.
  2. Document the accident: Take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries. Collect contact and insurance information from the other driver(s) involved.
  3. Gather witness information: If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for their names and contact information.
  4. Seek medical attention: Even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, it’s essential to get a medical evaluation. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and delaying treatment can harm your health and your potential injury claim.
  5. Contact an experienced car accident attorney: Working with a knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that fault is properly determined and that you receive the compensation you deserve.

The actions you take in the immediate aftermath of an accident can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, so be proactive and seek the guidance of a skilled car accident attorney who can help you every step of the way.

How DP Injury Attorneys Can Help

At DP Injury Attorneys, our experienced San Diego car accident lawyers are dedicated to helping clients navigate the fault determination and insurance claims. We understand the challenges you face after an accident and are here to provide the guidance and support you need.

Our attorneys will:

  • Thoroughly investigate your accident to gather evidence and determine fault
  • Communicate with insurance companies on your behalf to protect your rights
  • Work with expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists and medical professionals, to build a strong case
  • Negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement
  • Take your case to trial if necessary to fight for the compensation you deserve

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in San Diego, don’t hesitate to contact DP Injury Attorneys for a FREE consultation. We’re here to help you understand your rights and options and to guide you through every step of the fault determination and claims process. Let us put our experience and dedication to work for you.

Author Bio

Arthur Paul D’Egidio is the Managing Partner of DP Injury Attorneys, a San Diego personal injury law firm. With more than 12 years of experience in California injury law, he has dedicated his practice to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury matters, including car accidents, workers’ compensation, slip and falls, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death cases.

Arthur received his Juris Doctor from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California as well as the San Diego County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Super Lawyer for seven straight years by Thomson Reuters and a “Top 40 Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google