Important California Car Accident Laws/Scenarios

Venice law enforcement arrest male suspectThere are many scenarios that could cause car accidents across the state of California. Drivers must be particularly careful when on the freeway and back roads. When there is an accident, having the best in legal and medical care is needed. There are many ways that a crash could happen. There could be a hit and run or a violation of a legal code, allowing the victim to sue for presumption of negligence, or negligence per se. Below you will find a list of some of the common ways that accidents happen and how to work with the situation. A skilled attorney, like one at Ehline Law can make a large difference.

Laws Everyone Should Know Before Driving a Car in California

Venice law enforcement arrest male suspectCalifornia car accident laws and the DMV codes generally allow or do not prevent the victim of an injury from hiring an attorney and bringing an injury claim for recovery of damages.

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

State insurance coverage is mandated under the voter enacted California Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law. All motor vehicle operators in California and residents that drive their cars shall be “financially responsible” if they drive and are involved in an accident and are required to show proof of insurance to law enforcement. They must also prove that they can minimally pay for damages and injuries caused by the use, ownership, or borrowing of an uninsured vehicle.

  • 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, or OTC (other than collision), underinsured motorist, or UIM, uninsured motorist (UM, medical payments coverage, and collision and theft policies are not required under state law and may overlap over each other. These are a great idea to have, even though you are only required to hold the basic statutory limits of minimum liability insurance. If not– you are required to show that you have a bond to cover the potential cost of injuries or property damage caused in a 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 state residents are eligible to buy “low cost, reduced limit, automobile liability coverages.” Under this program, known as the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (ìCLCAI), consumers can be in compliance with California insurance law.

Primary and Non-Primary Road Intersection Rules

Under the doctrine of preemption, when a non-primary roadway motorist enters an intersection this driver may only cross a primary street when it is reasonably safe and without endangering or impeding primary roadway motorists. If a driver is entering a 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 exiting the driveway would 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. 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 injury victims filing lawsuits over car accident negligence are entitled to recover damages for injuries. This is the plaintiff. The plaintiff has the burden to show that the defendant or defendants– the driver that caused the accident was negligent. This could be established as a violation of the CVC– the California Vehicle Code or due to the other driver’s care falling below the standard of care. The plaintiff must prove that the other driver did not use a degree of care while operating the vehicle. Examples include Whitford v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. (1955) 136 Cal.App.2d 697. The injured party is also obligated to show that the other driver’s negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

This can be seen in Clarke v. Hoek (1985) 174 Cal.App.3d 208; Peter W. v. San Francisco Unified School District (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 814.) Legal doctrines hold that the cause of the injuries must be the actual and “proximate cause”, for example, the “legal cause” of the injury. This section of tort law mandates that the plaintiff establishes: 1. defendant’s negligence was a contributing factor that caused the plaintiff’s injuries and damages, as seen in 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. the incident was not foreseeable or that it is an independent intervening act that caused plaintiffs injuries or death, example 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 lawsAttorneys from across the greater LA area can tell you that pure comparative negligence under California law shows that the plaintiff’s own negligence that contributes to their own injury is offset by the degree of negligence shown by the defendant. This is a pure form of comparative negligence– so that even if the plaintiff has some fault, they can still recover the amount that he is not at fault, reduced in proportion to degrees of fault, as seen in Li v. Yellow Cab Co. (1975) 13 Cal.3d 804.)

Scenarios that Include Negligence Under California Vehicle Laws

Below, find a list of some common cases of driver negligence for which damages could be recovered.

  • 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))

California laws generally allow or no not prevent victims from hiring legal counsel to deal with these issues. However, not having the right attorney could seriously hurt the chances you have to recover for serious injuries and property damage. To know your legal rights and for a free consultation, call Ehline Law today at 1-888-400-9721.