Rear-end collisions are some of the most commonly reported vehicle accidents in California. These accidents occur when one driver hits another vehicle from behind. These accidents can happen virtually anywhere and result from many different causes. However, driver inattention is the most commonly reported cause of rear-end collisions, and the trailing driver is almost always found to be at fault.

However, if you were recently involved in a rear-end collision, the fault may not necessarily rest entirely on the trailing driver. The leading driver can share liability for any damages that result, depending on how and why the accident happened. If you are unsure how to determine liability for a recent rear-end collision in California, it’s vital to consult an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

How Do Rear-End Collisions Happen?

Rear-end collisions can happen for several reasons. If a driver is not paying attention to traffic in front of them, they may not notice a leading vehicle slow down or stop in front of them in time to avoid a crash. It’s also possible for rear-end collisions to happen when drivers do not merge or change lanes correctly, slamming into the backs of other vehicles. Whenever a trailing driver’s inattention, speeding, or negligence causes a rear-end collision, the trailing driver is liable for all damages.

While many drivers assume that a trailing driver is always to blame for a rear-end collision, this is not necessarily true for every case. A leading driver can bear some or all of the blame for a rear-end collision in certain situations:

  • -If a leading driver slows down suddenly or stops inappropriately, they may bear partial liability for a resulting rear-end collision.
  • -If a leading driver’s vehicle has broken taillights or brake lights, a trailing driver may not be able to tell when the leading driver is slowing down.
  • -If a driver reverses into another vehicle while the other vehicle is stationary, the reversing driver is liable for the crash.
  • -Some rear-end collisions occur due to chain reactions. For example, one driver slams into the back of another vehicle stopped at a red light in a line of traffic. As a result, the struck vehicle is propelled forward into the rear end of the vehicle in front of them. In this situation, the driver in the middle would not be liable for hitting the vehicle in front of them unless they were somehow negligent and contributed to the collision. However, the trailing driver would likely face liability for the damages to the driver in the middle and the driver in front of them.

Car accidents can have devastating consequences for everyone involved, from serious injuries to substantial vehicle repair bills and pain and suffering for those injured. If you believe another driver is responsible for causing a recent rear-end collision, it’s vital to know the value of legal counsel you can trust as you work toward securing compensation for your losses.

How Can an Attorney Help After a Rear-End Collision?

Proving fault for your recent accident is the first essential step in securing compensation for your losses. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to accomplish this, such as traffic camera footage, vehicle computer data, eyewitness statements, or even the other driver’s cell phone records to prove they were distracted at the time of the crash. Instead of attempting to manage your case on your own while recovering from painful injuries, an experienced attorney can significantly improve your chances of successfully securing compensation for your damages while you rest and recover.

An insurance claim against the other driver is likely to be your first step toward recovery and dealing with insurance companies is rarely easy. However, your attorney can draft a demand letter for coverage to the insurer, significantly reducing the insurer’s chances of unfairly pushing back against or denying your claim. Ultimately, you are not only more likely to secure compensation for a rear-end collision with an attorney’s help but also more likely to maximize your total recovery.


Q: Where Do Rear-End Collisions Most Commonly Occur?

A: Most rear-end collisions occur at intersections. These incidents often happen when the driver struck from behind is wholly stopped, waiting for their turn to proceed through traffic. Rear-end collisions are also common in parking lots when drivers aren’t paying attention or are driving through lanes of parked cars too fast. These incidents can also occur on highways when drivers tailgate other drivers at high speeds.

Q: What Does Comparative Negligence Mean?

A: “Comparative negligence” is a legal term used to describe shared fault in a civil claim. If a plaintiff is partially responsible for causing their claimed damages, they are comparatively negligent. Under California’s pure comparative negligence law, the plaintiff loses a portion of their damages equal to their share of fault for causing those damages.

Q: Will Insurance Cover a Rear-End Collision?

A: California upholds a fault rule for car accidents, so all drivers must carry auto insurance that includes liability coverage if they cause accidents with others. If another driver caused a rear-end collision with you, you have the right to file a claim against their auto insurance policy. If they do not have insurance, you may be able to claim against your own uninsured/underinsured driver coverage if you have added this coverage option to your own policy.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for a Rear-End Collision Claim?

A: If you experienced a very minor rear-end collision that only caused moderate cosmetic damage to your vehicle, you could resolve the situation with the other driver without resorting to a personal injury claim. However, if you were injured or the at-fault driver disputes responsibility for causing the accident, it is best to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Rear-end collisions are common in California and often cause significant damage. Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates offers the representation you need to hold an at-fault driver accountable for the damages they caused. If you need legal counsel after a rear-end collision in California, contact us today and schedule a consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer.