For determination of rear end collision fault California residents must rely on the facts of the accident. While the driver who rear ends another vehicle is often held responsible because it is determined there was not enough distance between the two cars, there can be circumstances where the other driver is held to be at fault.
No Presumption of Liability in California
There is no presumption of liability in California when one car rear ends another, though the driver who rear ends a car is almost always initially blamed. But you can defend yourself against a claim if you can prove that you had no control over the situation and were exercising due care as a driver.
For example, if you were safely following another auto leaving plenty of stopping room, but someone veers into your lane and slams on their brakes making it impossible for you to stop in time, you may not be held responsible. There are laws against making reckless or unsafe lane changes.
In another example, you are fully stopped in a line of traffic and someone who is speeding rear ends you and pushes your car into the car in front of you. If you can prove you were fully stopped then you are not held responsible for the accident.
Don’t Confuse Insurance Coverage Laws with Accident Responsibility
People tend to get confused about the difference between the responsibility of auto insurance companies to pay for claims and accident responsibility. State insurance laws dictate who will pay the accident claims, but failure to adhere to motor vehicle laws or negligent or reckless driving will decide who is responsible for an accident.
California operates under the Financial Responsibility law. This law requires you to carry insurance that covers potential injuries or property damage incurred by others during an accident that you caused. This law does not determine accident responsibility.
Comparative Negligence in California
California is a comparative negligence state. This means that even if you are found to be partially to blame for the rear end collision, you may be able to recover some damages in court if the other person contributed to the accident also.
In the comparative negligence state, there is a percentage of fault that is assigned to the person who caused the accident. That percentage is then applied to the total damages awarded and the calculated amount is deducted from the total award. The balance is paid as damages.
Consult an Attorney
You should consult an attorney if you are involved in a rear end collision to insure you get the full amount of compensation due you.