Who is at Fault in a Car Accident in California?

Manning Law, APC

In order for any legal financial settlement to be reached, the courts must determine who is at fault. In straightforward cases, this is usually done by proving negligence or a violation of a statute; however, California law does have specifics that can make things more complicated.


Fault can be determined is to see if either driver broke a law that resulted in the accident, making the driver technically at fault. When a car accident is a result of violating the California Vehicle Code, the driver is presumed to have been negligent, or they failed to be careful and cautious while operating their vehicle. Typically, the police report will state whether a driver was driving negligently.

When anyone gets behind the wheel of a car to drive, they are accepting the responsibility to drive carefully and not harm themselves or others. Failing to fulfill this responsibility and causing an accident is grounds for negligence, even if no law was broken. To prove negligence, the injured party must demonstrate that the other party did not use reasonable caution while driving and caused the crash. If this is all proven, the injured party will be entitled to full compensation.

Comparative Negligence

Sometimes accidents can be caused in part by both drivers. In cases like this, you may be judged using the comparative negligence rule. For example, if you are driving too fast to react to an unsafe lane change, it may be determined that you had partial fault. If this case were to go to court and your actions are deemed to be 20% of the cause of the accident, you would still be able to receive 80% compensation for your damages.

The “Act of God” Defense

Rarely, no one is at fault and a car accident is caused entirely by outside factors. This goes beyond just bad weather and driving conditions. If there is ice on the road, you are expected to only drive over it if you can do so safely. Often, this may mean driving quite below the speed limit. An “act of God” defense only covers things that cannot be anticipated in any way. If a sudden earthquake, or an unforeseeable heart attack, causes a car accident, it could be considered an “act of God” and there would be no one at fault.

A Newport Beach Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you are injured in a car crash, you should contact our personal injury attorneys as soon as you can after your car accident. Consulting with a lawyer will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Call Manning Law today at (800) 783-5006 if you have been injured in a car accident and need help building your case.