What is the Driver's Duty of Care in a California Car Accident Claim?

Most drivers know that they are supposed to drive with caution. However, this isn’t just something people tell you to do to keep you safe — it is the law. The law requires all drivers to operate their vehicles reasonably and responsibly; otherwise, they may be seen as negligent and could be held liable for their actions.

In legal terms, this driver’s responsibility is known as “Duty of Care.” All states impose this duty on their drivers, though the specifics of the law can vary from one state to another.

If you are involved in a car accident in the Bay Area, our team of personal injury lawyers can help. We can review your case and help you file a car accident claim if you need to recover compensation for your injuries. We can also help ensure the right party is held accountable for their negligent actions.

What is Duty of Care in California?

According to California legislation:

All drivers must use reasonable care when operating a vehicle. They must always be mindful of and look for pedestrians, other vehicles, and obstacles. Drivers must also control the speed and movement of their vehicles in a responsible manner.

When driving in California, this is the common-law standard of reasonable care — or duty of care.

Additionally, the law states that:

A driver is under a duty to operate their vehicle without negligence to abstain from injuring any other person or their property.

So if a driver operates their vehicle in any way considered reckless and unsafe, they can be held liable for breaching their duty of care. This means they could be held responsible for the accident and the damages caused.

Additionally, when a driver breaches their duty of care, negligent operator points may be added to their driving record, which could result in their license being revoked if they accumulate too many points.

California law also makes it illegal for a driver to leave the scene of a car accident they were involved in that results in an injury or death. In these cases, the driver must remain at the scene until the authorities have arrived. You must also give your contact information to others involved in the accident.

Common Ways That California Drivers Breach Their Duty of Care

There are countless ways that a driver might be seen as having acted negligently and breached their duty of care. However, some of the most common behaviors that lead to this breach of duty include the following:

  • Texting while driving
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Eating and drinking while driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Speeding
  • Failing to yield the right of way to other cars or pedestrians
  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Failing to share the road with bicyclists
  • Distracted driving

How to Prove That a California Driver Violated Their Duty of Care

The list above is a generalized list of common negligent driver behaviors, but there are many other ways a driver can be found to have breached their duty of care. As such, you must work with an attorney when involved in an accident. Your lawyer will be able to help you more thoroughly investigate the accident and gather evidence to prove that the other driver acted negligently.

With personal injury claims, you must be able to prove that the other driver was negligent to hold them liable for the accident. If you intend to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries and other potential damages, you should work with an attorney to ensure the other driver is found responsible.

Evidence that you and your attorney can collect to help prove that another driver violated their duty of care includes:

  • Police reports
  • Photos from the accident scene
  • Video surveillance footage
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Accident reconstruction reports
  • Black box data
  • Dashcam footage

Once you have obtained sufficient evidence, your lawyer will help you build a solid case to ensure you win the fair settlement you deserve. A settlement award can help you pay for damages such as your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain & suffering, emotional distress, and more.

We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus On Your Life

If you are injured in a California accident, our legal team can help you file your claim and prove that the other driver breached their duty of care.

At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, our car accident lawyers fight hard to ensure our clients get the total and fair compensation they deserve to help pay for their damages.

For help with your car accident claim, call us at 877-380-8852 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.

Accident Client

If you’re someone who is considering an attorney for a personal accident, I highly recommend Sally Morin and her professional staff of attorneys. If you would like to know more details, feel free to contact me via Yelp and I would be happy to share more details. While I use Yelp quite often, I rarely post reviews… unless I’m truly blown away by great service (or angry with horrible service). If there were a sixth star, I would certainly give it to Rebecca and Sally!

We're here to help with your Personal Injury claim

Check out our Personal Injury FAQ Page to learn more about how the process works.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible