A number of California cities are now reviewing “first responder/accident responder” fees that would charge motorists responsible for car accidents the cost to the Fire Department for cleaning up the wreckage. San Francisco will be the first major California city to implement the fee. Accident fees are controversial, with most Californians opposing their imposition. However, cities facing budget shortfalls are seeking new ways to increase revenue and see significant benefit from these fees.
Many Central Valley cities already have such fees including:
Fresno, Lodi, Modesto, and Sacramento are considering adopting them. Much of the opposition stems from the belief that if accident fees are charged to insurance companies, insurance costs will rise.
Currently all California drivers must carry insurance in the amount of $15,000 for injury or death or 1 person per accident (or $30,000 for 2 people); and $5,000 for property damage per accident. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to carry sufficient insurance and as a result, if you are injured in a car accident, you may need to look to your own uninsured or under nsured policy.
Whether a “first responder” charge would increase insurance costs remains to be seen. Regardless, the cost of getting in a California car accident continues to rise.