not at fault in a car accident

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in California and believe you were not at fault, it pays to know how to proceed with filing an auto insurance claim.


This guide will cover the essential steps and legal considerations, including how fault is determined, different types of accidents, the claims process, possible damages, average compensation, and the advantages of working with an experienced California auto accident lawyer.



Determining Fault in California Car Accidents

Per California law, fault in auto accidents is determined based on the presence and degree of negligence. This means proving that another driver’s failure to exercise reasonable care on the road led to the accident. Factors considered in the process to prove fault include disobeying traffic signals, speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence.


Evidence such as traffic camera footage, witness statements, police reports, SR-1 form, and physical evidence from the accident scene can all play critical roles in establishing fault.

Types of Car Accidents and Fault Determination

There are varying degrees of fault in a car accident claim, each affecting how much insurance coverage is available.

Clear Fault Cases

Some accidents inherently make fault determination straightforward. Rear-end collisions typically place fault on the driver who crashed into the back of another vehicle, under the presumption they were not maintaining a safe distance or attention. Likewise, left-turn accidents commonly fault the driver making the turn, assuming the other driver was traveling straight on a green light.

Vague Fault Cases

Conversely, accidents involving multiple vehicles, or those at intersections without clear traffic signals, can complicate fault determination. Incidents where drivers blame each other for running a red light or stop sign require detailed investigation to establish the sequence of events.

Car Insurance Claim Process Not At Fault: What To Do

When you’re not at fault in a car accident, you should first report the accident to authorities and seek the help of a personal injury attorney.  Provide all necessary documentation, including police reports, photographic evidence of the scene of the accident, and any other records supporting your claim of not being at fault.


Do not talk to any insurance adjuster first thing as this may devalue your potential compensation, especially if you suffered injuries and significant property damage. While insurance companies may seem to care, they often prioritize minimizing their payouts. An experienced car accident and injury lawyer will guide you through interactions with insurance carriers and ensure you don’t unknowingly compromise your claim.

Recoverable Damages in an Auto Accident

According to California state law, those not at fault in a car accident can recover various types of damages when they file a personal injury claim as victims:

  • Medical expenses: Costs for immediate and ongoing medical treatment.
  • Lost wages: Compensation for any missed work due to the accident.
  • Property damage: To repair or replace your vehicle and any personal property damaged.
  • Pain and suffering: For physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Wrongful death: If the accident results in the death of a loved one, family members may pursue compensation for their loss.

Average Compensation for a Car Accident in California

what is the average compensation for a car accident in california

Compensation in auto accident cases varies widely but tends to reflect the severity of injuries and financial losses incurred. Though minor accidents might result in modest settlements covering direct expenses, severe accidents involving significant injuries can lead to substantial settlements meant to cover extended medical care, long-term income loss, and pain and suffering.


The usual range for compensation in California car accident cases is between $14,000 and $100,000. This is influenced by several factors, including the nature and duration of the injuries, the total medical costs incurred, the impact on the victim’s ability to work, and the extent of pain and suffering experienced.


Other considerations that can affect the compensation amount include the insurance policy limits of the parties involved, the degree of fault each party bears, and the legal strategy employed during negotiations or litigation. Not at fault in a car accident? You may stand to receive higher compensation for your losses and injuries. 

Car Insurance Claim Process Not at Fault:
How a Vehicle Accident Lawyer Can Help

Hiring an injury lawyer who specializes in motor vehicle accidents can markedly improve your chances of a favorable outcome when you file a claim. An experienced attorney can help by:

  • Handling all communications with insurance companies to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Gathering and presenting evidence that supports your claim.
  • Negotiating settlements with insurers and at-fault parties.
  • Representing you in court, if necessary.

An attorney’s expertise is particularly valuable in accidents where fault is unclear or disputed, or when the insurance offer does not cover all your losses.

File a Car Accident Claim in California. Call RTM Law Firm for Expert and Aggressive Representation.
No Fees Until We Win.

If you are not at fault in a car accident and suffered injuries and significant property damage, taking the right steps can protect your interests and ensure that you receive compensation. From collecting evidence to filing claims and negotiating settlements, the process requires attention to detail and an understanding of legal procedures.


For expert help with your claim and to ensure you receive fair treatment, reach out to the California car accident and injury attorneys at RTM Law Firm. We offer expert legal representation and will not charge you any fees until we win your case.




    We Help Accident Victims File
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    Our California personal injury attorneys handle a wide range of personal injury claims in several areas, including:

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