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Do You Know What To Do If You’re Rear-Ended In a California Car Accident?

Injury lawyer Boone Callaway of Callaway & Wolf looks at California's rear-end accident laws.

California Liability Law When Rear-Ended In a Car Crash

Rear-end accidents are one of the more common types of injury-causing accidents that may occur. In a rear-end accident, one vehicle hits the rear of the vehicle in front of it, often with little or no warning to the driver of the car in front. You may have heard that the driver of a vehicle that rear-ends another vehicle is “always at fault” or “presumed to be at fault” for a rear-end accident.

While this presumption exists in many states, it is not the case under California law. That being said, in practice the rear driver does in fact tend to be found at fault in most rear-end accidents.

Common Causes of Rear End Accidents

Some of the more common causes of rear end accidents include the following:

  • Speeding/driving too fast for conditions
  • Following too closely
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Brake failure
  • Tail light failure or malfunction
  • Worn tires
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Poor road maintenance

There are many other reasons a rear-end collisions may occur, some of which may implicate negligence on the part of one of the drivers or another party. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to review the circumstances of your incident and determine whether you have a claim. Importantly, both drivers who were rear-ended and those who rear-ended another driver may benefit from the assistance of an attorney. In either circumstance, a driver who is able to show that he or she was driving reasonably or had no opportunity to avoid an accident may be able to establish liability on the part of the other driver.

Car Accidents and Rear-End Collisions in California

Motor vehicle accidents affect millions of people each year. In fact, a person is injured in a motor vehicle collision every 2 minutes and 20 seconds in California, according to data provided by the California Highway Patrol. In most cases, these accidents occur due to a driver’s negligence, and victims are able to recover for their losses by bringing a personal injury claim. The types of damages that may be recoverable in a case arising from a California car accident include compensation for medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of future income, among others. The first step in ensuring that you get the compensation you deserve is hiring an experienced personal injury attorney.

Don’t Ignore Common Injuries from a Rear-End Crash

Rear-end accidents have the potential to cause serious medical injuries, some of which may lead to long-term complications. One of the most common injuries that rear-end accident victims sustain is whiplash, which is a non-medical term referring to a variety of neck and spinal injuries. These injuries can cause long-term pain and discomfort, and may even keep someone from working for an extended period.

Sometimes, however, whiplash symptoms do not develop for a significant amount of time after an accident, making it difficult to show that the injury was caused by the accident. As a result, it is important that people who are involved in rear-end accidents seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your physician will be able to diagnose and treat any injuries that you may have sustained, and will also generate an official record documenting your injuries.

Liability in Rear-Ender Accidents

In rear-end collisions, the insurance carriers or self-insured parties almost always focus on the amount of damage to the vehicles. When that damage appears small, they will often deny an injury claim, or make a very small offer. Many factors, though, can turn around a case of this type. Often deeper evaluation of the car which was struck will show hidden damage. Also, if the injured person was made more vulnerable by past injuries or other conditions, this can help prove that even a relatively low-speed accident has in fact caused the symptoms they had after the accident.

California law recognizes that some people are more vulnerable, and there is even a specific jury instruction, C.A.C.I. 3927, informing jurors that a party who causes an accident is responsible for any aggravation of a pre-existing injury.

Contact an Attorney if You’ve Been Rear-Ended In a Car Accident

To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys specializing in rear-end accidents, click here or call the law offices of Callaway & Wolf at 415-541-0300 now.

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