It is such a commonly known rule of the road that it may seem obvious, yet people violate it every day – “No person shall drive a vehicle . . . at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no even at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” (CVC Section 22350.)
A posted speed limit is certainly relevant, but it is not the sole determinant in whether a driver has been negligent in driving too fast. Surrounding conditions may make it negligent to drive at the speed limit. “Compliance with the posted speed law does not negate negligence as a matter of law.” (Maxwell v. Colburn, (1980) 105 Cal.App.3d 180, 186.) For example, in a situation with heavy fog on PCH, it may be necessary to drive significantly slower than the posted speed limit and driving at the posted speed limit would then be a negligent act. However, a party arguing that a driver was still negligent despite that driver’s following the posted speed limit must prove clearly that driver’s speed was unsafe.
On the other hand, going over the posted speed limit is not necessarily negligent either. If a driver was going over the speed limit, it can create a presumption that the driver was negligent. However, that driver can overcome the presumption with competent evidence that the speed at which they were driving was not unsafe. For example, oftentimes the flow of traffic exceeds the posted speed limit, in which case, it can in fact be unsafe to drive at the posted speed limit. Ultimately, “[t]he mere driving of an automobile in excess of the speed limit does not show negligence as a matter of law. [A] jury [i]s free to find [a defendant] not guilty of negligence even if they found that he was exceeding the speed limit.” (Williams v. Cole (1960) 181 Cal. App. 2d 70, 74.)
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, don’t just assume that you can easily get what you’re entitled to from the at-fault driver’s insurance on your own. They will fight to protect their own interest, and they are well-versed in the nuances of the law. An aggressive personal injury attorney will fight the hard fight to make sure the at-fault driver’s insurance pays what they should in your case. Contact the Ledger Law Firm in Newport Beach with a team of lawyers who bring over 100 years of collective legal experience, and you will get the strongest legal arguments available to hold the responsible parties accountable!