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Important California Car Accident Laws/Scenarios

Many scenarios could cause car accidents across the Golden State. Because of this, drivers must be careful when on the freeway and back roads. Also, in the case of an accident, you need the best in legal and medical. But there are many ways that a crash could happen.

As a result, it could be a hit and run or a violation of a legal code. So this would allow the victim to sue for the presumption of negligence or negligence per se.

But below you will find a list of some of the common ways that accidents happen. Also, you will see how to work with the situation. Furthermore, a skilled attorney, like one at Ehline Law Firm can make a large difference.

Car accident laws and the DMV codes allow or do not prevent the victim of an injury from hiring an attorney. Also, they do not prevent bringing an injury claim for recovery of damages.

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

State insurance coverage gets mandated under the voter-enacted Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law. So all motor vehicle operators and residents that drive their cars shall be “financially responsible.” So if they drive and are involved in an accident, they are required to show proof of insurance to law enforcement. Also, they must 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 Defined? A: Insurance Law Jargon for Minimum Insurance Coverage for Vehicles:
  • $15,000 for bodily injury and death claims of one person 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), under-insured motorist, or UIM, uninsured motorist (UM, medical payments coverage, and collision and theft policies are not required by state law. However, they may overlap each other.

But these are an excellent idea to have. But you are only required to hold basic insurance. But if not– you have an obligation to show that you have a bond. This covers the potential cost of injuries or property damage caused by a collision.

Methods of Proving and Complying With CA Financial Responsibility Laws:

  • Purchase insurance coverage from an insurance agent;
  • Pay the DMV a cash sum of $35,000;
  • Prove you are self-insured with the DMV; usually, this involves owners of vehicle fleets that have at least 25 vehicles in business use;
  • Purchase a surety bond for $35,000 from your insurance agent. Some state residents are eligible to buy “low cost, reduced limit, automobile liability coverages.” California calls this the Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program. ("CLCAI"). So this means consumers can be in compliance with the 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 street first street when reasonably safe. So this means crossing without endangering or impeding the primary roadway drivers. Also, a driver entering a roadway from a private driveway must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.

When a motorist gets close to the driver exiting a driveway, he must yield. Otherwise, this would create a hazard. So the exiting driver must use great care entering the roadway. That way the driver avoids obstructing traffic.

But the motorist on the primary street has a duty to use caution. He must do so in non-primary traffic areas. Also, this driver has a lesser burden than the motorist on the non-primary roadway. Therefore, the primary roadway traveler can assume certain things.

For example, they can expect entering the main roadway from a private driveway or side road will not impede their right-of-way. But the driver on the main road seeing a car in their path must legally slow their vehicle. So this must remain a standard of being reasonable.

Standards of Care.

Drivers that are on the shoulder of a highway or roadway get held to the same standard as motorists that are entering the roadway from a private driveway. So they must yield to traffic on the road. And they should only enter the roadway when safe. All in all, they may not place any drivers in danger.

When a driver passes another vehicle, he or she has a duty to ensure a clear path. Last, the driver should be entirely confident they have looked at all angles of traffic. So they must assure safe passage.

How to Determine Fault in the Accident:

Most injury victims filing lawsuits over car accident negligence are entitled to recover damages for injuries. Also, this includes the person called a plaintiff. But the plaintiff has the burden to show that the defendant or defendants– the driver that caused the accident was negligent.

Next, this could become established as a violation of the CVC– the California Vehicle Code. But it could be due to the other driver’s care falling below the standard of care.

So the plaintiff must prove the other driver failed to use reasonable attention while operating the vehicle. Examples include Whitford v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. (1955) 136 Cal.App.2d 697. Because of that case, the injured party must show the other driver’s negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Proximate Cause Explained.

Also, this can get 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.” So for example, it must be the “legal cause” of the injury.

Furthermore, this section of tort law mandates that the plaintiff shows: 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 tit was an independent intervening act that caused plaintiff's injuries or death Example Mitchell v. Gonzales (1985) 54 Cal.3d 1041; “. . . negligence must be substantial factor” in causing plaintiff’s injuries.

Pure Comparative Negligence.

Venice Beach police enforce lawsPure comparative negligence under state law says plaintiff’s negligence offsets recovers. The offset is based on the degree of negligence shown by the defendant.

This state has a pure form of comparative negligence – so even if the plaintiff has some fault, they can still recover for what they are not at fault. But it gets 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 Vehicle Laws:

Below, find a list of some common cases of driver negligence for which damages could get 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 can be 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 people 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 wilfully 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))


No state law prevents victims from hiring legal counsel to deal with these issues. However, not having the right attorney could seriously hurt your case. Most of all, the chances to recover for serious injuries and property damage are reduced. So learn your legal rights and get a free consultation. Reach out and call Ehline Law Firm today at (888) 400-9721.

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