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Negligence Claims in California Car Accident Cases

Posted by Inna Gorin | Feb 06, 2018

Most car accident lawsuits in Los Angeles County are based on the negligence law, also known as a civil wrong.

It's a legal theory that is the primary basis for most auto accident lawsuits. If you have ever been involved in a car accident, you have likely heard the word “negligence” many times. However, what exactly does negligence mean, and how can it be proven?

This is probably one of the most common questions our Los Angeles car accident injury lawyers are asked.

In basic terms, car drivers are negligent when they fail to exercise a level of care that a reasonably careful person would exercise in similar circumstances.

Negligence can be an affirmative act or just an omission.

This simply means a car driver can be considered negligent because they did something that a reasonable person wouldn't do under the circumstances or failed to do something that a reasonable person would have done.

Whether or not a car driver acted negligently in a car accident is the question that will have to be decided by the jury if the case proceeds to a trial.

In a civil lawsuit, it's up to the victim to prove every element of the negligence law by a preponderance of the evidence. A car accident negligence claim's elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages.

To prove these elements, the victim will need to show the other auto driver owed a legal duty of care to them, under the circumstances, that the car driver failed to perform that “duty,” and that the other car driver's breach “caused” the car accident or injury that resulted in you suffering “damages.”

It's important to note that every single car accident lawsuit in Los Angeles County is different. The unique facts and circumstances of the car accident case will determine the evidence needed to prove every element of your negligence cause of action.

If you have sustained injuries in an auto collision due to negligence or another driver, consult a car accident lawyer at Injury Justice Law Firm LLP.

Our skilled injury attorneys will need to closely review the specific details of your car accident to determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.

The exact details matter. Do not accept a quick settlement offer from the other driver's insurance company. It's a common tactic to settle your claim for the least amount possible. Let our car accident injury lawyers evaluate your car accident.

Now that we have discussed a basic overview of the meaning of negligence in a car accident case let's take an even closer review below. Here is a review of using negligence as a basis for recovery in car accident cases.

What is Negligence in Car Accidents?

When a car driver is negligent, they behave carelessly, causing harm or injury to the other driver.

As stated above, a car driver can be negligent by doing something they should not have done. For example, they ran a red light or were speeding, which caused the auto accident.

Negligence in a car accident also fails to do something they should have done.

For example, the car driver failed to yield, turn on their headlights for night driving, or stop for pedestrians, which caused an accident.

As stated, it's important to note again that negligence is a legal concept used in most car accident cases.

It means a driver must use reasonable care to avoid collisions with other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Under California law, if a car driver is not reasonably careful and causes injuries to another person, they can be held liable for injuring the car accident victim.

Call a Los Angeles car accident attorney at our law firm for more information about negligence.

Elements of a Negligence Claim

The victim in an auto collision must prove the other driver was negligent. The elements of negligence include all of the following:

  • Duty of reasonable care
  • Beaching the duty of reasonable care
  • The breach caused your injuries

A typical example in a Los Angeles County car accident case includes a situation where a driver claims they suffered whiplash after being involved in a rear-end car accident.

The victim has to provide evidence that the whiplash was caused by the other driver's rear-end auto collision, not by some other accident or event.

If the victim suffered whiplash from another recent event, they would find it difficult to prove the car accident was the cause of their injury.

The victim must also show evidence of their injuries and monetary losses that need to be compensated.

This is why keeping detailed records of injuries, medical bills, and property damage is essential.

What Reasonable Duties Does a Driver Have?

Under California law, car drivers must use reasonable care to avoid harming anyone. But what exactly does this mean?

Below are a few examples of specific requirements imposed by law. If any car driver fails to meet these requirements, they could have violated the driver's duty of reasonable care:

  • Driving their car at a reasonable speed
  • Keeping a proper lookout for other cars or pedestrians
  • Maintain control of their car
  • Maintain their car in safe working order
  • Duties imposed by California state law, such as DUI

There are many legal defenses an at-fault driver may attempt to use to avoid being considered negligent. These defenses might successfully lower or eliminate their liability and the amount of compensation they have to pay.

You need an experienced Los Angeles car accident injury lawyer at our office to review your case.

Common Example: a Negligence Claim in a Car Accident

In a real car accident scenario, the elements of negligence work together: A car driver was operating their vehicle on a public street, meaning they owed a legal duty to other drivers to use reasonable care.

They breached their legal duty when the car driver ran a red light at an intersection. This breach of their duty caused them to collide with the victim's vehicle.

Due to this car collision, the victim suffered damages in both personal injuries and some property damage. If the victim can prove all of these facts, they will be entitled by California law to recover compensation from the at-fault car driver for their harm.

This compensation will typically come from the at-fault car driver's insurance company.

Comparative Negligence in California

In some cases, the victim could be partially at fault in the car accident case. In these types of cases, recovery could still be possible because California follows the doctrine of “comparative negligence.”

This means liability might be divided among all responsible drivers according to their relative degree of fault. If it is found the victim is partially liable for their injuries, the damages they can recover from the main at-fault car driver will be reduced proportionally.

For example, if the victim is found to be 20 percent liable for the car accident, they may still be entitled to recover the other 80 percent of their damages from the other driver.

Call our Los Angeles Car Accident Injury Attorneys

In some car accident cases, the facts and circumstances are straightforward and can be handled without an injury lawyer.

However, if you have sustained severe injuries or permanent disability, or your car accident case involves significant damages, you must call a Los Angeles car accident lawyer at Injury Justice Law Firm LLP.

Our attorneys have a track record of success in recovering the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

This includes medical expenses, lost wages, future wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other losses.

We need to review your car accident case details to determine options. We work on a contingency basis, meaning we don't charge any fees unless we win your case. Contact our injury attorneys for a free case evaluation by calling 310-734-7974.

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About the Author

Inna Gorin

Inna Gorin, the founding Partner of Injury Justice Law Firm modeled the Firm after her ideals and principles of what skilled, aggressive and tenacious representation of individual clients should embody. Ms. Gorin's mission is to level the playing field, and provide her clients with the same level...


If you have been injured in an accident, our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys will protect your legal rights and help you recover compensation for your injuries. We are available 24/7 for your risk free initial consultation in Beverly Hills, Encino, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley, Valencia and Ventura County areas.