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Can I Be Liable if My Car is Rear-Ended in a Crash

You’re sitting at a red light when all of a sudden your car is struck from behind. The driver who rear-ended you is entirely to blame for the rear-end collision, right? Not necessarily. The driver who rear-ends another vehicle is typically at fault. However, there are times when you can be liable when your car is rear-ended in an Orange County car accident.

Have you been involved in a rear-end collision in Orange County? Contact the Law Offices of John Rapillo for immediate legal assistance. Others involved in your accident may try to blame you for the crash. We can protect you and your ability to recover compensation. Your first consultation is free, so do not hesitate to call for help today.

How Common Are Rear-End Car Accidents?

Rear-end accidents are incredibly common. There are more than 1.7 million rear-end collisions across the nation every year. Statistics reveal that 29 percent of all car accidents involve a rear-end collision. More than 80 percent of all rear-end collisions involve a front vehicle that is completely stopped at the time of the crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) authorized several studies to better understand (a) why rear-end collisions happen so frequently, (b) what causes most rear-end crashes, and (c) who is typically involved in rear-end accidents.

Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is a contributing factor in 87 percent of all rear-end car accidents.

Looking Away From the Road: Taking your eyes off the road significantly increases the likelihood of a rear-end collision. 64 percent of rear-end accidents involve a driver who glanced away from the road for two or more seconds.

Male Drivers: Men, particularly drivers between the ages of 24 and 35, are two times more likely than others to be involved in a rear-end collision.

The Rear Driver is Usually Liable for a Rear-End Collision

It’s a common belief that the rear driver is always to blame for a rear-end car accident. While not always true, this is generally the case.

Why? As the rear driver, you can see what’s going on in front of you. If you’re paying attention, you should be able to stop your car before getting into an accident. The reason that most rear drivers are at fault for a rear-end collision is that they fail to leave a reasonable cushion of space between vehicles.

Under California law, all drivers are required to leave a safe distance between vehicles. Vehicle Code 21703 VC explains that drivers must not “follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable or prudent.”

How do you know if you leave enough space to comply with 21703 VC? Many factors will be considered, including traffic, speed, and road conditions. The California Department of Motor Vehicles suggests leaving yourself at least 3 seconds to stop suddenly.

Many drivers, however, tailgate the vehicles in front of them. When the lead vehicle stops short, the rear driver has no time to react and stop the car before causing a collision.

You Can Share Responsibility If You’re Rear-Ended in Orange County

The rear driver is not automatically at fault if there is a rear-end collision. There are times when you can be liable if you are rear-ended by another vehicle.

You may be totally or partly responsible for a rear-end car accident if you:

  • Stop your vehicle suddenly without a legitimate reason
  • Stop to make a turn, but remain in the path of other vehicles
  • Drive a vehicle with broken tail or brake lights
  • Drive in reverse, or
  • Don’t use turning signals or hazards to communicate with other drivers.

Many rear-end car accidents happen when a lead driver is struck from behind while sitting at a red light. These types of accidents have increased in recent years, thanks to rampant cell phone use. Drivers check their phones while sitting at an intersection and fail to see that the light has turned from red to green.

Drivers approaching from the rear see the green light and anticipate that vehicles in front of them will move through the intersection. However, the lead driver is still unaware that the light has changed. In these situations, the lead driver will share fault for a rear-end collision.

Impact From a Rear-End Crash Pushes You Into Another Vehicle. Are You Liable?

You may be. Remember, all drivers have to leave a reasonable and prudent space between vehicles. If the impact of a rear-end collision forces your car into the vehicle in front of you, it’s possible that you didn’t leave enough space. You could be considered negligent and liable for damages incurred by the driver of that car in front of you.

However, every case is different. Factors and circumstances relevant to your accident will be considered when determining fault. For example, let’s say the car that rear-ended you was driving 60 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. The violent force of impact from that crash could cause your car to travel quite a distance. You could slam into the car in front of you, even if you did leave a reasonable amount of space.

Do not hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer if you are being blamed for your rear-end accident. The facts and circumstances surrounding your case matter. Our experienced attorneys will fight to protect you and your right to recover compensation.

Sharing Fault Can Limit Your Ability to Recover Compensation

More than one person can be liable for an Orange County car accident. Sharing fault doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t recover compensation. You are entitled to a financial award as long as someone else also shares fault.

However, there are two important things to understand about comparative fault:

  1. If you share fault you will be partly responsible for damages incurred by others injured in your accident.
  2. Your damages will be reduced by the degree to which you caused your accident.

Let’s say you’re rear-ended at an Orange County intersection. You were texting and didn’t see that the light had turned green. You and the driver who hit you both share fault for the accident. The rear driver is 75 percent at fault, while you share 25 percent of the blame.

You will be 25 percent liable for any damages the rear driver suffered. At the same time, your financial award will be reduced by 25 percent. If you suffered $20,000 in damages, you’d be able to recover a maximum of $15,000.

The more fault you share, the less money you can recover. Hiring an attorney can help to limit your liability after a rear-end crash. Call the Law Offices of John Rapillo to learn more.

Need Help?

Have you been rear-ended in an Orange County accident? Call our experienced personal injury lawyers to schedule a free consultation. We are prepared to help you assert your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. The first consultation is free, so call to get started on your injury case today.

Get Personalized Attention

Mr. Rapillo does not pass your case off to other attorneys or legal assistants. When you hire him, you have direct access to him, you get his undivided attention, and he’s committed to working hard for you with the full support of his staff and legal resources.

The Law Offices of John Rapillo are located in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. Mr. Rapillo handles cases throughout Southern California, including Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. If you are unable to travel to one of Mr. Rapillo’s offices, a consultation can be arranged at a location near you.

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Visit our Orange County, CA Personal Injury Law Offices

We have two convenient locations in Orange County to serve our clients. We are located in Newport Beach, CA and in Huntington Beach, CA. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and for driving directions to our offices.

John Rapillo

2700 Newport Blvd #172A
Newport Beach, CA 92663

(949) 675-5060
John Rapillo

17011 Beach Blvd #900
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

(714) 848-4849