Important California Car Accident Laws/Scenarios

Venice law enforcement arrest male suspectThis page is set forth to provide a quick reference to California motorists who need a snap shot of some of the more relevant laws relating to safe and lawful operation of a motor vehicle. Many things can happen in a vehicle accident, such as a hit and run. Sometimes violation of a code gives rights to sue for presumption of negligence, or negligence per se. The purpose of this section is to give consumers in California an overview of motor vehicle law and how it relates to an injured victim. Below is a non comprehensive laundry list of DMV codes & damages recoverable under California law for auto accidents in California cities, or even Marina del Rey for example. California Car Accident Laws and DMV Codes generally allow, or do not prevent an individual who was injured in a California car accident to hire a car accident lawyer, represent his or her self, and bring an injury claim/lawsuit for recovery of damages.

Laws Everyone Should Know Before Driving a Car in California

Venice law enforcement arrest male suspectMany things can happen in a vehicle accident, such as a hit and run. Sometimes violation of a code gives rights to sue for presumption of negligence, or negligence per se. The purpose of this section is to give consumers in California an overview of motor vehicle law and how it relates to an injured victim. Below is a non comprehensive laundry list of DMV codes & damages recoverable under California law for auto accidents in California cities, or even Marina del Rey for example.

California Car Accident Laws and DMV Codes generally allow, or do not prevent an individual who was injured in a California car accident to hire a car accident lawyer, represent his or her self, and bring an injury claim/lawsuit for recovery of damages.

You Must Have Minimum 15/30/5 California Insurance Coverage Under CA Law

Basic California insurance coverage requirements for motor vehicles are mandated and regulated under the voter enacted law titled: “California Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law.” Under this law, all motor vehicle operators in California and individuals who reside in the state and drive their cars, shall be “financially responsible” if they drive a car and are involved in a motor vehicle accident, or simply asked y the police or law enforcement to show proof of auto insurance in this state. All the above Motor vehicle drivers need to establish proof they can minimally pay for damages and injuries that they caused to others due to their operating, owning, or even borrowing an uninsured vehicle they operate.

  • Q: 15/30/5, What is That? A: Insurance Law Jargon for Minimum California Insurance Liability Coverage for Vehicles:
  • $15,000 for bodily injury and death claims of one individual injured in an accident involving motor vehicles;
  • $30,000 if more than one injured and bills and damages indicate $30,000 or more in damages as to all persons in the car;
  • $5,000 to coverage the other party’s property damage claims against you per motor vehicle accident.

Types of Insurance Not Required But You’d be Crazy not to Buy!

Comprehensive coverage (also known as (“OTC”, or “other than collision” coverage), underinsured motorist (“UIM”), uninsured motorist (“UM”), medical payments coverage, which may overlap existing coverages for you, collision and theft insurance are not required under CA vehicle laws. Either way, you must carry at least the basic statutory limits of minimum liability insurance. If not, you must prove you have a bond, which is another approved way to pay for injuries or property damage you or another consumer may have caused in the collision.

Methods of Proving and Complying With CA Financial Responsibility Laws:

  • 1. Purchase insurance coverage from an insurance agent;
  • 2. Pay the DMV a cash sum of $35,000;
  • 3. Prove you are self insured with the DMV; usually this involves owners of vehicle fleets that have at least 25 vehicles in business use;
  • 4. Purchase a surety bond for $35,000 from your insurance agent in California.

Some drivers who live in California, are eligible to buy “low cost, reduced limit, automobile liability coverages”. This program, called the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (“CLCAIP”), sets forth that the consumers on that program are deemed to be in compliance with insurance laws in California.

Primary and Non-Primary Road Intersection Rules

When a non-primary roadway motorist enters an intersection under the doctrine of preemption, this driver may only cross a primary street when it is reasonable safe and without endangering or impeding primary roadway motorists.

If a driver is entering the roadway from a private driveway, they must yield to the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, when the motorist is in a close enough vicinity if the driver exits the driveway it will create a hazard. The exiting driver is required to use the utmost care when entering the roadway to avoid obstructing traffic.

The motorist on the primary street has a duty to use caution in locations where there are non-primary traffic locations. This driver has a lesser duty, than the motorist on the non-primary roadway and the primary roadway motorist can assume that vehicles entering the main roadway from a private driveway or side road will not impede their right-of-way. The driver on the primary roadway that does see a vehicle in their path or pulling into their path must legally slow their vehicle.

Drivers that are on the shoulder of a highway or roadway are held to the same standard as motorists that are entering the roadway from a private driveway. They must yield to traffic on the road and only enter the roadway when it is safe to do so, without putting any drivers traveling on the roadway in danger.

When a driver is passing another vehicle on the road, the driver has a duty to ensure that prior to attempting to pass the vehicle the path must be clear and the driver should be completely certain they have looked at all angles of traffic for it to be safe to pass safely.

 

How to Determine Fault in the Accident

Most individuals filing lawsuits for car accident negligence against others, are entitled to recover damages for injuries. The person suing is called a “plaintiff. The plaintiff’s burden is to show the defendants, the driver who caused the accident, was negligent. This can be established by violating the California Vehicle Code (“CVC”), or just because the defendant’s conduct that caused the accident had fallen below the standard of care. Simply said, the plaintiff must establish to the jury that the other driver failed to use a reasonable degree of care when he or she operated the car that injured another individual. (See generally Whitford v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. (1955) 136 Cal.App.2d 697.) The injured party must also establish that the other driver’s negligence was the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. Clarke v. Hoek (1985) 174 Cal.App.3d 208; Peter W. v. San Francisco Unified School District (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 814.) Law schools teach that cause of the injuries must be the actual and “proximate cause”, such as the “legal cause” of the injury. This rule of tort law mandates that the injured victim plaintiff establish: 1. defendant’s negligence was a contributing factor that caused plaintiff’s injuries and damages. (Sagadin v. Ripper (1985) 175 Cal.App.3d 1141; Gordon v. Havasu Palms 93 C.A.4th 244, 112 C.R.2d 816 (2001); 2. it wasn’t foreseeable it could have happened or that it is an independent intervening act that caused plaintiff’s injuries or death. (Mitchell v. Gonzales (1985) 54 Cal.3d 1041; “. . . negligence must be substantial factor” in causing plaintiff’s injuries)

California Pure Comparative Negligence

Venice Beach police enforce California lawsLos Angeles personal injury attorneys will tell you that pure comparative negligence under California law states that the plaintiff’s own negligence that contributes to his or her injury is offset by that degree of negligence caused by the defendant. This is a “pure form” of comparative negligence. So even if the plaintiff is slightly at fault, he still gets to recover the percentage he is not at fault from defendant in creating the injuries and damages; these will be reduced in “proportion” to degrees of fault. (Li v. Yellow Cab Co. (1975) 13 Cal.3d 804.)

Scenarios that Include Negligence Under California Vehicle Laws

This non comprehensive list shows just a few examples of driver negligence for which you could recover damages.

  • Driving Too Fast - Driving way too fast can be negligent per se. (CVC Sec. 22350, et seq).; Hardin v. San Jose City Lines (1953) 41 Cal.2d 432.) Sometimes it is even negligent to drive too slow. (Scott v Texaco, Inc. (1966) 239 Cal.App.2d 431.) Construction zone signs, or hazard signs creating special speed zones that are disobeyed are also a factor in proving negligence. (Wilding v. Norton (1957) 156 Cal.App.2d 374.)
  • Failing to Pay Attention - Vehicle operators shall keep a proper lookout for other vehicles and individuals when driving on the roads and must control the vehicle at all times to as not to cause a wreck. (Leeper v Nelson (1956) 139 Cal.App.2d 65; Lutz v. Schendel (1959) 175 Cal.App.2d 140.)
  • Failure To Yield Rights of Way - (CVC Sec. 21800, et seq.) Left turns (CVC Sec. 21801) see also Sesler v. Ghumman (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 218; Failure to Yield to Right Of Way Signs (CVC Sec. 21803); Illegal U-Turn (CVC Sec. 22105.) At an intersection (CVC Sec. 21800(a)-(e), see also Saterlee v. Orange Glenn School Dist. (1947) 29 Cal.2d 581.)
  • Vehicle Defect - The owner or operator of a motor vehicle has a duty to inspect and maintain his or her vehicle. (Yamaha Motor Corp. v. Paseman (1990) 219 Cal.App. 958; Dyer v. Superior Court (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 61.)
  • Intentional and Reckless Acts - A motor vehicle operator cannot willfully harm people or property with the vehicle as a weapon, or recklessly not do something he or she should have done! (Ingram v. Bob Jaffe Co. (1956) 139 Cal.App2d 193.)
  • Cannot Drive the “Wrong Way” - (CVC Sec. 21650); See also Altomare v. Hunt (1950) 101 Cal.App.2d 10.)
  • Illegal to Turn From A Wrong Lane - (CVC Sec. 22107.)
  • Must Maintain and Properly Use Your Vehicle Brakes - (Veh.C. 26450, et seq.) Maloney v. Rath 69 Cal.2d 442 (1968) 71 Cal.Reports. 897, 445 P.2d 513.)
  • Failure to Maintain or Turn on Your Headlights - (CVC Sec. 24400, et seq.; See also Matlock v. Farmers Mercantile Co. (1968) 258 Cal.App.2d 362.
  • Failure To Give Proper Turn and Other Vehicle Signals - (CVC Sec. 22107-22111; Pittman v. Boiven (1967) 249 Cal.App.2d 207.)
  • Failure Maintain Safe Following Distance- (Veh.C. 21703 Pittman v. Boiven (1967) 249 Cal.App.2d 207.)
  • Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol or Drugs (“DUI”) (C.C. 3333.4(a)(1))

As you can see, California car accident laws and DMV Codes generally allow, or do not prevent individuals from hiring legal counsel in the state. But you are not guaranteed an attorney in the case of an infraction, which is quasi criminal, not allowing jail time for the infraction itself. Our car accident law firm handles negligence cases on a contingency fee basis. This means no recovery, no fee to you. You must not let the statute of limitations expire in your civil cases. For more information, and answers to frequently asked question regarding serious claims, call Ehline Law Firm PC; at 1-888-400-9721. Please feel free to visit or contact us for a comprehensive discussion of your potential legal matters.