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What Is The Law On Rear End Accidents?

Rear end automobile collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly a third of all car accidents in the United States are as the result of rear end collisions, and these accidents cause serious and potentially life threatening injuries. While determining fault in these cases may seem obvious, there are situations in which drivers who have been rear ended can be held partially responsible for causing the accident.

Determining Fault for Rear End Collisions

In many cases, a rear end collision can be easily attributed to some type of dangerous driving behavior on the part of a driver who hits another vehicle. While there are no clear cut statutes on rear end collisions in the California Motor Vehicle Code, the California Department of Motor Vehicles lists a number of driving violations that put drivers at greater risk of hitting other drivers. These include:

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  • Speeding;
  • Tailgating;
  • Improper passing;
  • Failure to yield;
  • Driving too fast for conditions; and
  • Failing to obey traffic signals and crossings.

In addition to the above, driving under the influence of alcohol or even prescription drugs can impair your vision, judgment, and reflexes and make rear end collisions more likely.

California Comparative Negligence Laws

Comparative negligence is a legal theory in which a person can be held responsible for actions that contributed to their injury, as well as for failing to take actions that could have avoided their being injured. In the case of rear end collisions, a driver who rear ended another could make the case that the driver who was hit either was driving below the posted speed limit, slammed on their brakes, or engaged in some other activity which contributed to the accident. Under Section 1714 of the California Civil Code, residents of California are legally responsible not only for their direct acts which cause injuries and property damages to others, but also for indirect acts in which they have put themselves or others in danger. While insurance companies often deny claims for drivers who are even slightly at fault for causing an accident, the California courts will allow these drivers to collect damages in personal injury lawsuits, although the amount of compensation they will be entitled to receive will be reduced depending on their degree of fault for the accident.  If you have been involved in an accident in which you feel you are partly to blame, be sure and consult with a San Francisco lawyer before making any statements which could be used against you later in your claim.

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