Liability in a Rear End Car Accident in California: Who Pays?

front end damage from a car accident on a red car

If you have been injured in a California rear-end car accident, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. Here is an overview of what is needed to establish liability in a rear-end collision.

When it comes to establishing liability in a rear-end collision, many people assume that the driver who does the rear-ending is automatically responsible. But, while the following driver is usually liable, this is not always the case.

Also, even if the following driver is liable, you still need to prove liability in a rear-end collision in order to recover just compensation. Without proof, the other driver’s insurance company won’t accept financial responsibility, and you won’t be able to recover the compensation you deserve.

How Do You Prove Liability in a California Rear-End Collision?

Getting to know rear-end collision liability.Given the importance of proof, we’ll talk about this first. So, how do you prove liability in a rear-end collision?

Proving liability for a California car accident requires evidence. As with all types of California car accidents, the evidence that is available following a rear-end collision will depend on the circumstances involved. This includes everything from the severity of the crash to what the other driver was doing behind the wheel, and from whether there were any witnesses to how soon you hire a lawyer.

Types of Evidence for Proving Liability in a Rear-End Collision

There are many types of evidence that can be used to prove liability in a rear-end collision. When investigating your accident, your lawyer may be able to collect evidence including:

  • Photographs of skid marks on the road
  • Photographs of the road conditions and traffic signs or signals in the vicinity of the collision
  • A copy of the police report
  • Statements from witnesses who saw the crash happen
  • Traffic camera, surveillance camera, or cell phone camera footage
  • The other driver’s cell phone and/or employment records
  • The other vehicle’s maintenance records and any recall notices
  • Event data recorder (“black box”) data from the other driver’s vehicle
  • Reports detailing the damage to each vehicle involved in the collision
  • Expert testimony explaining how and why the accident occurred
  • A digital reconstruction of the accident showing that the other driver was at fault

In addition to these (and other) types of evidence, your lawyer will also rely heavily on any information you are able to provide. As a result, you should be sure to keep any photos or videos you took with your phone, and you should write down everything you can remember as soon as possible. You will want to start a file for your medical records and bills as well. While these won’t necessarily help to prove that the other driver is liable, they will help when it comes to proving how much you are entitled to recover.

It Is Important that You Hire a Lawyer Right Away

Given the importance of collecting evidence both from the scene of the accident and from other sources, you will want to hire a lawyer to conduct an investigation right away. There is no reason to wait, but waiting could make it more difficult to prove liability. As a result, you should contact a lawyer online now through, and you should work with your lawyer to make sure you do everything necessary to maximize your financial recovery.

Is the Driver in Front Ever Liable for a California Rear End Car Accident?

In some cases, it is possible for the driver in front to hold liability in a rear-end collision. For example, if the driver in front stopped for no reason and without warning, then there may have been nothing the following driver could have done to avoid a collision.

These scenarios are relatively few and far between, but they do happen. If you rear-ended someone and you think that they may be responsible, you should consult with a lawyer about your legal rights.

Who Is Liable for a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

In many cases, rear-end collisions involve multiple vehicles. When multiple vehicles are involved (i.e. in a chain reaction accident), establishing liability becomes more challenging. But, an experienced lawyer will be able to sift through all of the available evidence, determine who was at fault, and use the available evidence to seek the compensation you deserve.

Oftentimes (though not always), multiple drivers will share responsibility for a multi-vehicle accident. For example, maybe the driver at the back of the accident was distracted, and maybe the driver in the middle was following too closely. When multiple drivers share liability, each driver’s legal rights depend the laws of the state where the accident happened. Each injured driver may be able to pursue full compensation from one at-fault driver’s insurance company, or each driver may need to pursue multiple claims. Additionally, for any driver who was partially at fault, that driver’s rights will depend on whether the relevant state follows the rule of pure contributory negligence or comparative fault.

Who Pays for a California Rear-End Car Accident?

Now, let’s return to the question in the title of this article: Who pays for a California rear-end car accident? If the other driver was at fault, his or her insurance company should provide coverage. However, if you live in a “no fault” insurance state (or if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured), then you may need to file a claim under your own auto insurance policy.

There are other options as well. Was the other driver working at the time of the accident? Did his or her brakes fail? Was there an issue with the road that prevented the other driver from stopping in time? If the answer to any of these questions is, “Yes,” then you could have a “third party” claim against the driver’s employer, the brakes’ manufacturer, or the local road authority. These are all potential claims your lawyer can evaluate on your behalf—and pursue if they are available.

Injured in a Rear-End Car Accident? Get a Free Consultation 24/7

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