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Why do California car crashes sometimes lead to civil lawsuits?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

The law requires that every driver in California carry insurance, and many drivers assume that insurance will take care of them after a car crash.

In a small number of cases, one of the people affected by a car crash may bring a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash or possibly a third party who contributed to the crash, like a mechanic who sent a vehicle back out on the road without getting it into fully operational condition.

When there is a driver covered by motor vehicle insurance who is to blame for a crash, why do the people affected by the wreck take them to court instead of just filing an insurance claim?

Insurance has its limits

The expenses that people have to cover after a car crash can cost several times more than what they can seek from insurance for reimbursement. California has somewhat low mandatory coverage requirements. Drivers only need liability coverage.

If a crash causes property damage, drivers should have at least $5,000 worth of property damage liability coverage for those expenses. When people get hurt or die because of a car crash, a driver’s bodily injury liability coverage will pay for medical expenses and even income that people lose because of a crash. California only requires $15,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage if a crash affects one person and $30,000 for collisions that affect two or more people.

Of course, how much coverage people carry depends on their priorities and financial circumstances. Some drivers have much better coverage because they want to protect themselves from liability and recognized that they cost more than $5,000 to fix a vehicle and more than $15,000 to treat serious injuries.

On the other hand, there are some drivers who let their policies lapse and have no coverage available at all. Lawsuits help those with costs that exceed the insurance available or those hurt in a crash by someone who didn’t have an active insurance policy.

When do you have grounds for a crash-related lawsuit?

Experiencing a car crash does not automatically mean that you can take someone else to court. You generally need to prove that you suffered financial losses that you could not cover with the available insurance. You will typically also need evidence of negligence or misconduct by another party to have an actionable case in civil court.

Reviewing the police report and insurance policies can be a good starting point for those trying to get compensation after a California car crash.