Statistically, over one-third of crashes in California that result in fatal or severe injuries involve a rear end collision.

If you were recently rear ended in California, then you likely know all too well how significant your financial losses can be after experiencing a crash. Even if you were following all the best road safety advice, you still can’t control other drivers.

If you experienced a crash that wasn’t your fault, then you could have legal recourse.

Filing a claim could help you receive compensation to help reimburse you for the expenses associated with your injuries, lost wages, and other accident-related costs. Learn more about California rear end collision laws, how you should handle an accident, and how Kermani LLP can help you seek justice after an accident below.

Understanding California’s Rear End Collision Laws

California law dictates the rights and responsibilities of all drivers on the road. Under the law, everyone who gets behind the wheel on a public road has the legal duty to provide for the care and safety of other motorists and pedestrians on the road. All drivers are expected to adhere to traffic laws and do their due diligence to keep everyone safe.

When a driver fails to uphold their duty of care, their actions can lead to an accident.

Accidents with serious losses lead to personal injury claims. Under California Vehicle Code 21703, drivers are expected to maintain a reasonable distance from the vehicle in front of them. That way, the following driver has enough time to brake when the car in front of them puts on their brakes. Drivers should never be tailgating another driver in front of them. Similarly, leading vehicles shouldn’t brake check the people behind them. They should hit their brakes within a reasonable amount of time.

Due to CVC 21703, many people assume that all rear end accidents are caused by the following driver, but that’s not always the case. Every rear end accident is unique.

Immediate Actions After Being Rear Ended

If you do get rear ended, then you must file an official accident report by calling the police. Involving the authorities is even more important if you think the accident resulted in physical injuries or significant property damage.

The authorities will arrive and begin an initial investigation into what happened. They’ll document essential evidence and clear away the accident scene. They’ll do all this while you get the medical care you need.

the first step after being rear ended in California

Safety and Legal Procedures at the Accident Scene

The authorities will officially document who was involved in a police report. They’ll collect contact information from everyone involved and any nearby witnesses who saw what happened. An initial investigation will take place, and authorities might document some evidence they find at the crash site. If possible, you can contribute to collecting evidence by taking photographs of the scene or asking whether anyone caught video footage of the crash on a dash cam or nearby surveillance camera. Having the authorities document your accident in an official report will help support your legal rights if you later decide to seek a compensation claim.

Reporting and Documentation Essentials

Depending on the severity of the crash, rear end accident consequences can be significant. Serious injuries can lead to substantial medical costs, a long-term recovery period, lost wages, property damage, and more. If you decide to seek out a claim, then your damage calculation should also include non-economic losses that you endure, too, like emotional distress or pain and suffering.

To document your losses, you’ll want to collect proof of any economic losses. You can do this by getting copies of your medical bills, saving a copy of your medical diagnosis, getting a repair estimate for your property damage, getting a wage statement from your employer, and getting proof of any other losses, too.

Assessing Fault: Not Always the Rear Driver

When considering rear end collision fault in California, the following driver is often initially considered to blame for the crash. Usually, this assumption is made because it is assumed that the following driver didn’t leave enough space between themselves and the car they were following to properly stop in time.

It’s important not to make this assumption in your accident situation.

Every rear end crash is unique, and it’s not always the rear driver who is at fault for the crash. To determine who could be responsible for the accident, an independent investigation into the crash may need to take place.

Instances Where the Front Driver May be Liable

There are situations when the rear driver isn’t to blame. For example, if the leading driver slammed on their brakes on purpose, then that might be considered the leading driver’s fault. Similarly, if the leading driver’s brake lights were broken, then the following driver might not be able to stop in time.

Unique Circumstances Impacting Fault Determination

Fault determination is made on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, it’s neither the front driver nor the rear driver who is responsible for causing the accident. For example, there are situations in which a defective car part malfunctions and leaves a driver without control of their vehicle. If this defective part causes a crash, then the part manufacturer could be considered at fault and liable for the accident. In other situations, a third-party driver could’ve caused the sudden braking or a rear-end collision.

There could also be other unique circumstances that impact your claim, too. For instance, if one of the drivers was employed at the time of the rear end collision, then the company’s insurance policy might also come into play if the employee is determined to be at fault for the incident. If a part failed due to a recent poor maintenance repair job, then it’s possible that the mechanic could be held responsible.

How Fault Impacts Insurance and Claims

Determining who or what is at fault in an accident situation is paramount to identifying how any future claims will play out. In general, insurance claims and the legal claim process in California are both based on an at-fault system.

The party who is determined to be at fault for an accident will be the party who is expected to pay the financial costs of the crash.

California courtrooms do operate on a comparative negligence standard, though, which means that one party can pursue compensation from another party even when both parties contributed to the crash. When fault can be attributed to multiple parties, then courtrooms generally limit a person’s compensation award by the percentage of fault they contributed to the accident.

Seeking Legal Assistance and Representation

Considering the complexity of filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party, it’s often best to hire a legal representative who can help you process your claim. A qualified car accident attorney in California can help you navigate the process.

To ensure you hire the right lawyer, start your search locally. Look for an attorney who has specific experience representing other injured individuals in rear-end accidents. You can check the firm’s past case results and reviews from prior clients to get a better idea of the lawyer’s quality of service.

Were You Rear Ended in California? Contact Us Now

If you sustained significant injuries in a California state law rear end collision incident and you think the accident was someone else’s fault, then your next best move might be to get in touch with legal representation who can help you identify your options moving forward.

Here at Kermani LLP, the team is prepared to listen to the facts surrounding your accident, the extent of your injuries, and the overall impact the accident has had on your quality of life. Based on that information, attorneys can help you decide on whether pursuing a compensation claim is worth your time and effort.

If you do decide to seek a claim, then Kermani LLP’s trusted lawyers will help with all your next steps: 

  • Collect evidence to prove your case.
  • File all the necessary paperwork to start a claim.
  • Value your claim appropriately.
  • Negotiate with the other party.

If you’re ready to get started on your case, then we’re ready to hear from you. Schedule a consultation with our team now.

January 31, 2024

Ray Kermani
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