Important California Car Accident Laws/Scenarios

Below you will find a list of some of the common ways that accidents happen and the laws in place that are supposed to prevent and pay for them.

What are the Laws Everyone Should Know Before Driving a Car?

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Car accident laws found in the Vehicle Code and negligence regulations based upon common sense are designed to prevent car accidents and to redress car accident victims.

Also, they do not prevent bringing an injury claim for recovery of damages despite potential criminal penalties against a defendant. Below we discuss some essential laws and principles, accident avoidance, and where to go for legal help if you're in a pickle.

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

State insurance coverage remains 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 you drive and are involved in an accident, you are required to show proof of insurance to law enforcement. Also, you must prove you 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 cover the other party’s property damage claims against you per motor vehicle accident. (Learn more.)

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 must show that you have a bond. And 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 comply 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 also must use caution. He must do so in non-primary traffic areas as well. But 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 to enter the main roadway to be safe from a private driveway or side road traffic, since it's not supposed not to impede their right-of-way. But the driver on the main road seeing a car in their path must still legally slow their vehicle. So this must remain a standard of being reasonable.

What are Some Standards of Care in an Auto Accident?

Drivers that are on the shoulder of a highway or roadway remain held to the same standard as motorists 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 must 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.


No state law prevents victims from hiring legal counsel to deal with these issues. So go ahead and learn your legal rights and get a free consultation. Reach out and call Ehline Law Firm today at (213) 596-9642.