Rear-end car accidents are incredibly common. Statistics show that one out of every four crashes involves a rear-end collision. Who is responsible for a rear-end crash? In most cases, the rear driver is at fault. However, this isn’t always the case. There are exceptions to this general rule. It is possible to share some of the blame and liability when you are rear-ended in San Diego.

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

A rear-end accident occurs when one vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. These types of accidents are very common. In fact, there are more than 4,600 rear-end collisions every day. The chances of being in a rear-end collision are much greater than any other type of car accident.

Several studies have been performed to determine why rear-end car accidents happen so frequently.

  • Male Drivers: Men between the ages of 24 and 35 are twice as likely to be involved in a rear-end car accident.
  • Distractions: A staggering 87 percent of rear-end collisions involve a distracted driver.
  • Eyes Off the Road: Nearly two-thirds of all rear-end collisions happen because drivers take their eyes off of the road for more than two seconds.
  • Lead Vehicle Stopped: Most rear-end collisions do not involve two moving vehicles. Instead, 81 percent of crashes happen when the front vehicle is stopped.
  • Intersections: Most rear-end car accidents occur at an intersection.

Limiting distractions behind the wheel could help to reduce the number of injury-causing and fatal rear-end collisions in San Diego.

Fault in San Diego Rear-End Collisions

Drivers in California have a duty to drive responsibly, pay attention to their surroundings, and follow the rules of the road. Ignoring any of these responsibilities increases the risk of an accident. Many rear-end collisions happen because the rear driver ignores an important traffic safety law: leaving a safe following distance.

California Vehicle Code 21703 VC prohibits drivers from following “another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent.” After a rear-end collision, factors such as traffic, weather, and speed of travel will all be considered when determining if a driver left enough space between vehicles.

Vehicle Code 21703 VC is intended to reduce the number of collisions on California roads. When cars follow one another too closely, drivers do not have the luxury of time when something unexpected happens.

For example, imagine that two cars are traveling down a residential road in a San Diego neighborhood. The rear driver is irritated that the front driver is only going 25 MPH, so he decides to tailgate him. The rear driver only leaves a distance of about 12 inches between the vehicles. The front driver suddenly slams on his brakes to avoid hitting a young child who ran out into the street unexpectedly. Since the rear driver didn’t leave a reasonable distance between vehicles, he is unable to stop before crashing into the front vehicle.
The driver is negligent for failing to leave a safe distance between the vehicles. As a result, he would be considered negligent and liable for any accident-related damages.

How Much Space Should Drivers Leave Between Vehicles?

There’s no one correct answer to this question. The California DMV suggests that drivers leave a gap of at least 3 seconds between vehicles. This gap should be increased to at least 4 seconds when vehicles are merging into traffic. Giving yourself at least three seconds to stop your vehicle should reduce the likelihood of causing a rear-end collision.

Following Distance and Liability for Chain Reaction Collisions

Some rear-end accidents will cause a chain reaction collision. When you’re rear-ended, the force of impact can cause your vehicle to move forward. If you’re close to the vehicle in front of you, you may end up rear-ending that vehicle.
It’s possible that you could be liable for damage caused by this secondary collision, even if the initial accident wasn’t your fault. Remember, you always have a duty to leave a reasonable following space between vehicles. This is true whether you are in motion or stopped.

Lead Drivers Can Be Liable for Rear-End Collisions

It’s not true that the rear driver is always at fault for a rear-end collision. It is possible to be responsible for an accident when your own vehicle is rear-ended. You may be totally or partly to blame for a rear-end collision if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • Your brake lights or tail lights were not functioning properly.
  • You stopped your vehicle suddenly and unnecessarily.
  • You slow down to make a turn without using a turning signal.
  • You stop to make a turn but remain on the road.
  • You put your vehicle into reverse and slam into the vehicle behind you.
  • You are distracted behind the wheel and fail to keep up with the flow of traffic.
  • You don’t pay attention while stopped at a red light and fail to move through the intersection after the light has changed.

Just because your brake lights are out or you’ve failed to use a turning signal doesn’t mean that you will always be liable for a rear-end collision. However, these factors will be considered as your case is investigated. Since California is a comparative negligence state, these negligent actions could threaten your ability to recover all of your damages.

Comparative Fault and San Diego Rear-End Car Accidents

There are many reasons why a rear-end car accident might happen. It’s also possible that more than one person is to blame. In California, fault and liability for an accident can be shared among several people. Potentially liable parties in a rear-end collision include:

  • The front driver
  • The rear driver
  • Other drivers on the road
  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists
  • Local government agencies for failing to maintain safe roads, and
  • Companies responsible for defective products or vehicles.

Anyone who shares even the slightest degree of responsibility for an accident can be liable for damages. The greater your role in causing a rear-end collision, the more you’ll be on the hook for a victim’s accident-related costs and expenses.

Sharing Fault For Your Rear-End Collision Can Affect Your Financial Recovery

Don’t panic if you share some of the blame for your rear-end car accident. In California, you can still recover compensation as long as you are not entirely at fault. Damages can be awarded if someone else also contributed to your rear-end crash.
However, your role in the accident will affect your personal injury case. The more fault you share, the less money you’ll be able to recover. Your monetary damages will be reduced by however much of the accident was your fault.

For example, let’s say that you were texting at a red light and failed to notice that it turned green. The cars in front of you began to move through the intersection, but your vehicle remained stopped. You’re rear-ended because the driver behind you saw that the light was green. It’s determined that you and the other driver are equally responsible for the accident. As a result, you will only be able to recover half of your damages. At the same time, you’ll be liable for 50 percent of the damages the other driver sustained because of the crash.

Call Our San Diego Car Accident Lawyers For Help

Have you been involved in a rear-end car accident in San Diego? Have you been blamed for the accident, even though you were the one who was hit from behind? This is a common tactic used by drivers who want to limit their liability after an accident. At Injury Trial Lawyers, APC, our experienced legal team knows how to protect you in these situations.

Contact our San Diego car accident lawyers to find out how we can help you get the money you deserve after a rear-end car accident. We can even recover damages on your behalf if you are partly responsible for the collision. Our goal is to make sure that you are fairly compensated for your accident-related injuries. Your first consultation is free, so do not hesitate to call for help today.

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