Who is Liable for an Intersection Collision in California?

intersection collision california

Intersection collision accidents represent a large percentage of motor vehicle accidents in California and across the country, due to the very nature of a location where two or more roads cross each other. Because drivers at intersections often are turning left or right and crossing over, the actions of drivers at intersections create a greater opportunity for calamity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that thirty-five to forty percent of all motor vehicle accidents involve intersections. For more information on who is liable for an intersection collision, please continue reading, then contact an experienced Santa Clara County auto accident attorney today.

What might cause an intersection collision in California?

Primarily, actions attributable to negligent drivers not paying sufficient attention are the root causes of the majority of intersection collisions. Negligent drivers may make excuses but the Golden State does not officially recognize any of them in court. That said, common causes of intersection collisions include:

  • Inadequate surveillance, i.e. failing to use one’s senses
  • Making false assumptions about the other drivers’ actions
  • Turning with an obstructed view
  • Making an illegal maneuver
  • Internal distraction
  • Misjudging a gap or other’s speed
  • Faulty traffic control devices
  • Other external factors, such as a mechanical issue with the motor vehicle itself

What types of injuries might one sustain from an intersection collision?

Unfortunately, intersection collisions result in some of the most catastrophic injuries seen in motor vehicle accident cases, especially if the offending vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and contacted another moving vehicle. The very high force of impact in an intersection collision increases the likelihood of serious injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury, including paraplegia or quadriplegia
  • Serious fractures, often to the legs and lower body
  • Death

Who can you hold responsible for an intersection collision in California?

California operates under the pure comparative negligence model. Under this model, the plaintiff can recover damages, i.e. financial compensation, against any other at-fault party, but the percentage that corresponds to their share of liability will reduce the amount the plaintiff actually receives. When determining fault, the trier of fact, i.e. the jury, will look at all the circumstances of the accident, particularly which parties violated traffic rules and how pivotal those traffic violations were to the parties’ injuries. Traffic violations include speeding, ignoring traffic control devices and signage or turning without looking. Thus, if the jury awards you $10,000, but determines you share twenty percent of the fault, you will receive $8,000.

If you find this at all confusing, please speak with one of our skilled Santa Clara County personal injury attorneys immediately.


When someone is wrongly injured in an accident, they often require financial compensation to heal. Contact the Law Offices of Brian J. O’Grady today to learn how we can help.