A sudden, serious accident can leave you in shock and in pain. Once you have a moment to catch your breath you may wonder how the accident occurred. Was it simply an accident caused by “an act of God” or nature, or did another driver make an error in judgment that led to such a terrible outcome?

The answer could determine if you are left to cover your own medical bills and car repairs, or if someone else is can be held liable for your damages.

How Does California Differentiate Between Accidents and a Negligent Act?

In the aftermath of an accident, investigators try to determine whether a crash was caused by unavoidable circumstances or if someone’s careless actions contributed to the unfortunate event.

To help simplify the issue, California and most other states require motorists to show a “duty of care” towards anyone else using the road. This legal concept requires motorists to take every precaution possible to avoid striking a vehicle, someone on foot, or a bicyclist. When they don’t show “reasonable care,” drivers can be found negligent.

Under this guideline, the finger of blame gets pointed at drivers who put others and themselves at risk of a collision with their choices and actions.

In the chaotic world of traffic collisions, there are rarely any “freak accidents.” On-scene investigators almost always find that one driver, or perhaps more than one, acted carelessly or recklessly to cause an impact. In the most basic terms, a negligent driver isn’t careful but instead is determined to be careless.

Woman involved in a car collision using her phone to call for assistance

Negligence on California Roads

Motorists control many aspects of their journey from behind the wheel and this responsibility can leave them liable for the damages and injuries stemming from a collision:

  • Reckless Driving. Drivers can end up liable for an accident when their excessive speeds, aggressive driving (such as tailgating), and overall lack of care for other motorists factor into the reasons a collision occurred.
  • Distracted Driving. California law prohibits drivers from holding a cellphone while in the driver’s seat, but that doesn’t stop motorists from texting and even surfing the web while speeding down a highway. Motorists can also be eating, talking with passengers, or fiddling with the radio and take their attention off the road.
  • Driving Under the Influence. Motorists may get behind the wheel while their judgment is impaired by the influence of a drug or alcohol, but that doesn’t remove liability. They still chose to start up their vehicles and drive while unfit to operate a motor vehicle. They will face criminal charges but a civil claim for damages can proceed separately to earn support for any victims injured by a resulting accident.
  • Too Fast For Conditions. Many think that accidents in snowy or rainy weather are no one’s fault. That’s not always the case. Drivers are always required to travel at a speed that is safe for conditions no matter the speed limit. When a driver’s vehicle slides on ice and into the back of another car, he or she is still negligent. The driver should have been going slow enough to avoid losing control.
  • Failure to Obey Traffic Laws. This is commonly seen at intersections when drivers become careless or simply are ignorant of the law. They proceed without the right-of-way and can be found at fault in a crash. Drivers can also make illegal U-turns, run a red light, or fail to check their mirrors and end up liable in a crash.
  • Vehicle Maintenance. Many also think that a tire blowout is a “freak” accident, but that’s also not true. If it can be shown that car owners were negligent in maintaining tires or brake pads and that lack of care contributed to a collision, they may have to accept liability for a victim’s recovery.

Red car damaged from collision

Comparative Fault When Drivers Share the Blame

California is a pure “comparative negligence” state. This legal concept allows drivers to share the blame in an accident. You may have not looked properly while pulling out into traffic. However, the person who hit you may have been traveling way too fast at the time. You can both have to accept accountability.

You may get assigned a percentage of the blame in your case, but that doesn’t mean you are barred from receiving injury compensation to help with your physical and financial hardships. The other driver also faces a percentage of the liability.

The amount of compensation you should receive would be determined, and then your percentage of the blame subtracted.

Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer

The best thing to do when you have questions over negligence and fault in a car accident is to talk to a local personal injury lawyer in LA. The attorneys with the Law Offices of Steers and Associates offer a free, no-obligation consultation to any victim injured in a car accident. This is an excellent way to get your questions answered and find out how much your injury case might be worth.

Every year, thousands of innocent victims end up paying for their own damages and medical care simply because they aren’t informed of their rights after an accident. Don’t get robbed of the compensation you need to rebuild your life after an injury. Contact the Law Offices of Steers & Associates to find out how we can help you earn what’s fair.