Car Accidents & Your Responsiblity


Every state has financial responsibility laws. For most of us, these laws require that we buy a certain minimum amount of liability insurance. As explained in this article, these minimal amounts are often not enough to cover the costs of most car accidents and, when this happens, you are responsible for the excess amount.

The amount of insurance required by financial responsibility laws varies from state to state. Here are a few examples:

State Bodily Injury/ Person Bodily Injury/ Accident Property Damage
California $15,000 $30,000 $5,000
Colorado $25,000 $50,000 $15,000
Massachusetts $20,000 $40,000 $5,000
New York $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
Texas $25,000 $50,000 $25,000


List of all states

Even relatively minor car accidents can cause damage that greatly exceeds these amounts. For example, various studies have suggested that one visit to the emergency room can cost between $1,000 and $7,000. Thus, anything requiring more than one visit for one patient could easily exceed the minimal bodily injury coverage amounts provided by state financial responsibility laws.

The same goes for property damage. Damaging more than one car, a more expensive car, or a structure (such as building or dwelling) could exceed the minimal financial responsibility amounts.

You are responsible for amounts in excess of the liability coverage you carry. This is why it is important to carry a higher amount of coverage than the minimal amounts established by state law.

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