Fault in Rear-End Accidents

Is the Fault Always Placed on the Tailing Driving in Rear-End Accidents?

nullCar accidents happen every day in a variety of ways, but rear-end accidents are among the most common, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic areas. A rear-end accident occurs when the front driver stops, and the driver behind him/her fails to stop quickly enough, colliding into the bumper. In a crowded state like California, there can be many distractions in addition to an influx of cars on the road. If a car accident were to occur, attorneys of Accident Lawyers Firm will ensure fair treatment for victims filing a claim for compensation.

The Toll of Rear-End Car Accidents 

Depending on the speed of the vehicle, these accidents can have a considerable amount of damage or no damage at all to the car, but the driver can suffer whiplash, which is injury of the neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles caused by a sudden, jerking motion. A personal injury attorney can win compensation for any injuries sustained in a car crash. Since rear-end accidents account for almost 30% of traffic accidents, it’s important to understand liability surrounding them.

Car Insurance in California is Required

Since the driver in the back failed to react quickly enough to the front driver’s actions, it’s common to assume that all fault falls on the driver in the back. However, that’s not always the case. In the state of California, the law requires drivers to be financially responsible for accidents they’re involved in. Any vehicle on the road must have insurance that can provide the following minimum coverages:

  • $15,000 – personal injury or death for one person
  • $30,000 – personal injury or death for more than one person
  • $5,000 – for coverage of property damage

An experienced lawyer can look carefully at the details of your case to determine the best strategy for success if you were injured. However, if you were the at-fault driver they will prioritize the case to  ensure that you aren’t overpaying in damages to the injured person(s). You and your lawyer should look at facts, including the other driver’s actions leading up to the crash.

Who is At Fault and Pays For A Rear-End Collision?

A rear-end accident is usually the most straightforward when it comes to determining fault; since the rear driver failed to stop, the collision is their fault. However, that’s not always the case, as courts will sometimes determine that the driver in the front was negligent. It all depends on the circumstances of the crash.

Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the chief causes of rear-end accidents, as the driver is not paying attention and therefore doesn’t have enough time to react. Texting while driving is the main cause of distracted driving, but drivers can also be distracted by rifling through junk, pets or kids in the back seat, and changing a music station on the radio. In these cases, the distracted driver is at fault.

Weather Related Driving Conditions
Wet driving conditions like those in snowy or rainy weather can cause the car’s brakes to skid and collide with another car. It’s important to check driving conditions before starting your journey and adjust your driving style to meet those conditions. If you are in an accident because of driving conditions, investigators will look at whether or not you took precautions to accommodate the slippery roads.

Driving While Tired
A commonly overlooked cause of an accident is fatigued driving. If the driver did not get enough sleep the night before, they are as dangerous as someone with a BAC of .08%. At risk drivers may be shift workers, drivers who spent a night drinking alcohol, individuals with sleeping disorders, or those who’ve been awake for too long. Their reaction times, ability to pay attention, and awareness of hazards are all negatively impacted by not getting enough sleep. A few signs to look out for are:

  • Nodding off while driving
  • Frequent yawning
  • Drifting in and out of your lane
  • Missing exits and inability to read exit and traffic signs

Tailgating Another Car
Following too closely gives the rear driver less time to brake when they’re surprised. This can also cause an accident, and the rear driver would be liable because they were negligent in their duty to maintain a safe distance between them and the other car. However, “brake checking” is when the front driver notices they are being followed closely, and they purposefully slam on their brakes without a valid reason. In this case, part of the fault would be on the front driver because they slammed on their brakes for no apparent reason. If you feel like this is the case, it’s possible that you and your lawyer can argue this in court.

As you can see from above, it’s not automatically the rear drivers fault in a rear-end collision. However, liability changes depending on which state in which the accident occurs. California courts pay attention to the amount of negligence each driver involved in the crash exhibits in the events leading up to the crash. Finding out how much you and the other driver are responsible for will be crucial to determining compensation.

Comparative Negligence

California courts abide by the doctrine of pure comparative negligence in car accident cases. The doctrine of comparative negligence allows the courts to determine liability on a case-by-case basis. If the court determines that the back driver was only partially at fault, then the amount of compensation may be reduced.

For example, if the courts find the other driver to be 20% responsible for their own injuries, then they would have to cover 20% of the damages in the case, while the driver maintaining 80% fault will have to cover 80% of the damages.

The Accident Lawyers Firm is highly experienced in dealing with pure comparative negligence, and they will fight to lower the compensation you owe to a fair amount regarding the accident. If you’ve been on either side of a rear-end accident, you should contact us to ensure a fair trial.