Approximately 30 percent of all car accidents in the United States involve rear-end collisions. Since many rear-end crashes happen at or near intersections, this may not be surprising. What may be a surprise, however, is just how dangerous and devastating a rear-end accident can be. Rear-end crashes are responsible for 30 percent of all car accident injuries and 6.8 percent of all accident fatalities. At the same time, 29 percent of all damage caused by car accidents involves a rear-end collision.
Is the Rear Driver Always At Fault in a Rear-End Crash?
If you’ve been rear-ended in California you may be quick to place all of the blame on the other driver. In fact, it’s a common belief that the driver of the rear vehicle is always at fault in a rear-end crash. This isn’t necessarily true. There’s nothing in California law that places automatic blame on either driver. Fault for a rear-end accident must be determined as it would be for any other crash. This is done by looking at the facts and circumstances of an accident and drawing logical conclusions.
How Is Fault Determined After a Rear-End Accident?
Rear-end accidents are common. In many cases, the driver of the rear vehicle does share all or most of the fault for this type of accident. However, car accidents can be incredibly complicated. More than one thing can cause a crash. It’s important to make sure that your rear-end accident is carefully investigated. Jumping to conclusions can prevent you from determining every cause of the accident. This could jeopardize the strength and success of your personal injury claim.
Fault for a rear-end crash is determined by considering any relevant evidence, information, and circumstances. Important things to assess include:
- Driver behavior at the time of the crash
- The speed of each vehicle at the time of the collision
- Use of a cell phone or other electronic device
- Eating or drinking at the time of the device
- Citations issued at the scene of the crash
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of each driver
- Condition of each vehicle
- Weather conditions
- Traffic conditions
- Road conditions, and
- Driver age and experience.
Each of these factors can help investigators paint a picture to better understand the crash.
What Happens If Each Driver Shares Fault for a Rear-End Crash?
It’s quite possible for each driver involved in a rear-end collision to contribute to the accident in some way. Imagine that Driver A is stopped at a red light. He decides to check his phone while waiting for the light to change. Driver B is approaching from the rear. He’s eager to get through the light and thinks that he won’t have to slow down, at all. Driver A doesn’t see that the light has turned green. Driver B plows directly in the rear of Driver A’s vehicle. Who is to blame?
In this scenario, both drivers likely share fault for the rear-end collision. Driver A was distracted by his cell phone and not paying attention to the traffic signal. However, Driver B also contributed to the crash. He essentially tried to time the light by driving aggressively. He didn’t consider the speed of other cars and failed to use the level of care that’s necessary to avoid an accident.
What happens when each driver shares fault for an accident? California employs the legal doctrine of comparative fault. Anyone who contributes to an accident can be liable for damages. If a victim is injured, their ability to recover compensation isn’t lost, but simply reduced.
Let’s say that Driver A and Driver B are equally responsible for the accident. Each driver also suffered $50,000 in damages because of the accident. Since the drivers share fault they’re not prevented from recovering compensation. However, the amount they can get will be reduced by however much they contributed tot he crash. So, Driver A and Driver B can both recover $25,000 from the other. ($50,000 reduced by 50 percent fault.)
It’s important to speak with an attorney if you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision. While preliminary fault may be placed with the rear driver, a careful investigation will uncover where fault really lies. This can be crucial to the success of your case. This is particularly true if you share some of the blame. Visit https://www.laventlaw.com if you have been in a car accident and need more information.