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Does Insurance Determine Who is at Fault for a Crash in California?

California has more cars on the road than anywhere else in the country. Even if you’re a safe and careful driver, you’ll likely have an accident at one time or another. When it comes to auto accidents, California is a fault-based state. There’s no such thing as no-fault insurance here. Who’s at fault determines which insurance company will pay for the resulting damages.

Determining Fault in the Claim Stage

 In a fault-based state like California, issues surrounding personal injury and property damage from an accident are often resolved without the burden or expense of a lawsuit. First, make a claim with the insurer of the person allegedly responsible for the crash. An adjuster will evaluate the liability and damages aspects of the case. Then, settlement negotiations with the claimant or his or her attorney begin.
Most cases in this claim stage settle without a formal admission of fault. However, some of them aren’t resolved, and then claimants file a lawsuit.

The Litigation Stage

When the parties can’t settle, they move on to the litigation stage. Therefore, this is where a judge or jury determines fault. That doesn’t mean that litigation cases don’t settle too. But, if a personal injury case goes to trial, that’s when liability is finally determined.
Unless there is an agreement to arbitrate a case, there are two types of trials: bench and jury. In a bench trial, the presiding judge hears the evidence, rules on its admissibility, and renders a final verdict on the case. In a jury trial, a jury consisting of 12 people hears the evidence that’s admitted by the presiding judge, and it’s those 12 people who render a final verdict.

Only Judges and Juries Can Determine Fault

No, insurance companies don’t decide who was at fault in a crash. They might take part in a decision, but only a judge in a bench trial or a jury in a jury trial can make the fault determination. Any final settlement before a verdict is between the parties, and if an insurance company authorizes a settlement, likely, it’s not going to admit to the liability of its insured person. In fact, settlement release language will likely state that the settled claim is doubtful and disputed.
If you received an injury in an accident with a disputed fault, contact us here at Maison Law to arrange for a free consultation with a respected and assertive California car accident lawyer. You can even email us a copy of your accident report before your consultation so we can discuss the fault issues in the case and advise you of your legal options. You may have a valid claim or lawsuit. If so, we can discuss our representation of you in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer Serving California Victims

With so many insurance companies that may be involved in your injury case, your pain and your real need for financial assistance shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. A California Car Accident Attorney works to call out this “bad faith” behavior on the part of insurance adjusters, so you get to keep your focus on your recovery.

After an accident involving a serious injury contact attorney Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case. He works closely with victims and families to make sure they have everything they need to rebuild their lives.

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