Rear-end collisions, also known as fender benders, are some of the most common types of vehicle collisions on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions account for 29% of all car accidents. Distracted driving, tailgating, drunk driving, and speeding are all common causes of these incidents.
You may have heard that the driver behind is always at fault for a rear-end collision. While this is almost always the case, there may be certain cases where the front driver may be found partially liable.
Situations Where the Lead Driver May Be at Fault
As a driver, you have a responsibility to stay safe and avoid hitting other vehicles. Due to the natural flow of traffic, rear drivers are primarily responsible for driving at a reasonable speed, leaving a buffer between the cars in front of them, and braking in time to avoid collisions.
While the presumption is typically that the rear driver is responsible for rear-end collisions in California, this is not always the case. A front or lead driver may be found to be at fault for a rear-end collision if this motorist:
- Did not have working tail lights
- Stopped no apparent reason in the middle of the road
- Was driving in reverse
- Pull out in front of another driver
- Fail to use hazard lights to communicate with other drivers
- Changed lanes in a negligent manner
- Experienced car problems that posed a safety hazard
Comparative Negligence in California
Even in the situations listed above, it’s uncommon that the lead driver would bear the full responsibility of a rear-end collision. Due to California’s pure comparative negligence law, two parties may both be found to be partially liable for a car accident. If this is the case, an injured party would be able to recover damages, even if they were partially at fault for the crash, but their total award amount would be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.
Here’s an example as it relates to rear-end collisions. Let’s say that a driver was engaging in road rage by aggressively braking at inappropriate times, thereby causing the driver behind to crash into the vehicle. After investigating the crash, it may be found that the front driver acted negligently by driving aggressively, while the rear driver was following too closely.
In this situation, both parties may be found to be at fault and could file a claim for any related damages they incurred.
Get Legal Help After a Car Accident
If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, whether you were the rear or lead driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. In these situations, it is highly recommended that you contact a local car accident attorney who can review your case for free and determine what legal options you have and how to go about filing a claim and pursuing compensation.
At Effres & Effres, our team consists of father-son duo, Attorney Steven Effres and Attorney Justin Effres. We have been protecting the rights of those injured across Southern California for over three decades and will fight hard to obtain a favorable outcome for you.
Contact our team at (818) 222-9720 to get started with a free case review!