In California, rear-end car collisions occur often. Many people sustain minor injuries, and vehicles are damaged. Sometimes, the injuries might be severe. Determining the liability for this accident type could become challenging due to various factors. However, California has several ways to determine liability in a car collision.

The involved drivers, the court, police report, reconstruction experts, and images will help determine liability after a rear-end car collision. Since determining liability might be challenging, you want to work with a personal injury attorney. The attorney will help you determine the liable party for the collision and receive fair compensation for the sustained injuries and damages. Also, the attorney will provide legal help throughout the entire process.

The Legal Meaning of Liability in a Rear-End Car Collision

The term liability refers to who caused the collision. The person/party causing the crash will be bound to pay the compensation to the alleged victims. When you've deemed the fault of the collision, you will be held liable for compensating all the damages and injuries suffered during the crash.

Rear-End Collision

When another driver hits you from behind, it's virtually not your fault, regardless of why you stopped. In California, all drivers are required to stop their car safely when traffic is stopped ahead. If a driver is unable to stop safely, then they are not driving safely. In a rear-end car collision, vehicle damage is critical in proving how the crash occurred. For instance, when one car's front is damaged, and the other car's rear end is also damaged, then the argument on the liability becomes limited.

But remember, even when you have been rear-ended, your negligence may reduce your compensation amount under comparative negligence. For example, comparative negligence will apply when both you and the other driver's brakes failed to function.

Proving Liability in a Rear-End Car Collision

Under the state’s laws, the prosecution team must prove some aspects before being liable for the collision. The court also examines various rules before it determines the responsible party in a car collision. Note, the process to determine the liable party in a car collision might be challenging. So, you need to seek legal guidance from a California personal injury lawyer. Our attorneys from the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm are here to help you.

The lawyer will help you understand the entire legal process and assist you in obtaining your compensation. To prove liability in a car collision, the prosecution team must have convincing evidence. It applies mainly when the case is settled through the court rather than negotiation. You may use the following proofs to convince the court and the prosecution team:

  • Police Report

The report is the starting point when it comes to proving negligence in a car collision. Ensure you highlight any inconsistency the police might miss. Also, ask the law officers how and when you should receive a copy of the report. Remember, the police report might have their evaluation about the liability of the collision.

  • Traffic Laws

Traffic laws are essential in regulating drivers while driving. The rules must always be observed. The laws are crucial When you want to prove the other driver breached the laws. The laws are part of the state’s statutes. The laws are outlined in a book available from the driver’s license agency. You may observe the table of content and look at the available listings like signals, distracted driving, and overspeeding. If you believe the other driver breached specific laws, receive the statute number.

  • The Nature of the Car Collision

The state’s law requires every driver to keep a distance from other drivers, so if the other driver rear-ends you while at a traffic stop, the driver becomes liable for the collision.

Proving Misconduct and Negligence

Negligence is the common factor that leads to car collisions. One common way of negligence is intoxication or driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Also, taking other prescribed medication before driving may amount to negligence. Inattention to the road is another common form of negligence. The following are the various forms of negligence in California:

  • Distracted driving
  • Adjusting your seat
  • Drinking or eating
  • Putting on makeup
  • Shaving while driving
  • Reading or looking at a map

Attorneys are familiar with all the above factors when proving negligence. Therefore, if you can show the other driver engaged in one of the above elements, you will prove liability in the collision. Alternatively, if the other driver can show you did the above elements, you will also be liable for the accident.

How the Involved Car Drivers are Liable for the Collision

After the rear-end car collision, the involved drivers may help determine the liability. Immediately after the crash, the drivers may engage in an exchange of words. But, this might be harmful. During the exchange of words, one party may admit to being liable for the accident. For example, the driver may argue that they did not see a particular road sign. So, the court may use this argument to prove liability.

Do you wonder what to do after the car collision? Ensure you take pictures of the involved car, the contacts and full names of the involved drivers, the names and details of the immediate eyewitnesses. You may also inquire about the other involved drivers to show you their licenses and insurance cards. Record the information and the car’s type. Remember to note the collision site, the time and day, and even the weather condition. If necessary, don’t rush to leave the scene; stay until the law enforcement officers arrive.

Insurance Company and Liability in Rear-End Car Collision

Under the state’s laws, when you strongly believe the collision occurred due to the other driver, the law allows you to seek compensation from the driver’s insurance company. But note, the insurance company will not readily accept the settlement. So instead, an adjuster will be assigned the claim by the insurance company.

The adjuster's work is to carry out researchers to determine whether the policyholder is responsible for the car collision. The research may include visiting the collision scene, interviewing the eyewitnesses, and investigating the nature of the involved car. So, the insurance company will also examine the following elements to determine the liability in the car collision:

  • Police citation
  • The involved driver’s signs of negligence
  • Medical records
  • The degree of the car damage
  • Traffic violation
  • The road status at the time of the accident

After the adjuster examines these elements, they will determine the liability and assign a certain percentage of liability to the involved drivers. Also, the company will consider the driver's negligence to determine the car collision liability.

If the adjuster finds it unclear to prove the liability, the insurance company may skip the claim by arguing their shareholder is not responsible for the collision. Also, the company may claim the other driver was partially liable for the crash. The insurance company will target decreasing the compensation amount. But, if you are the victim of the collision and the insurance company provides insufficient cover, you may file a claim at the court right away.

How Police Report Help Determine Liability in a Rear-End Car Collision

A police report is one of the common pieces of evidence used to determine liability after a rear-end car collision. You should remain calm after the car collision, especially if you believe the other driver is liable for the crash. The law enforcement officers often arrive at the scene, and they will first find out whether there is any person injured in the collision. Also, the police will interview the witnesses, examine the possible cause of the crash and compile a report about the crash.

The police will keep this report. Note, the police report may contain the opinion about the liable party for the accident. But, this report doesn’t necessarily mean the court will hold you responsible for the collision. So, if the police report indicates you're accountable for the accident, don’t worry since you may defeat the police report at the court.

According to recent reports, the law enforcement’s report is 80 percent correct most of the time. It means the police report is usually 20 percent wrong in a few cases. For instance, the report might be false when the victim retains injuries in the collision and cannot speak or when the victim dies due to the crash.

When the police believe one of the drivers violated traffic rules, the officers may issue a citation or even arrest the car driver. For example, when the car driver seems intoxicated, the police may conduct a sobriety test, breath test and create evidence that you were driving while impaired.

You want to seek legal help from a competent law firm. The experts will build a solid defense to challenge the evidence provided at the court. Also, the law firms have experienced reconstruction experts, investigators who will help determine the liability of the collision.

How Court Help Determine Liability in a Car Collision

In San Diego, many liability crimes are handled outside the court. But when the case proceeds to a court, the judge determines the liability. Usually, the court considers whether the collision occurs due to the driver's negligent behavior. The court will also hold hearings to listen to the evidence and arguments from the defendant. Then, the jury will consider whether the defendant was negligent when they caused the collision. After determining the driver's negligence, the judge will order them to compensate the alleged victims of the car collision.

The law enforcement’s report or the insurance companies don’t control the court’s judgment. The court may also consider various aspects like traffic laws to determine liability. The process of determining the fault may be a complicated one. That’s why you want to seek legal help from a competent personal injury attorney. The personal injury attorney will provide legal assistance and help you gather enough evidence to prove liability. 

Defective Auto Parts

A rear-end car collision might occur due to the car's defective parts. Therefore, if the manufacturer of the auto parts supplier sells defective parts, a malfunction might lead to a car collision. The part manufacturers or suppliers will be held liable for the crash. The faulty parts might include tires, airbags, and brakes.

Poor Road Conditions

Poor road conditions may also play a significant role in causing a car collision. Roads are considered to be in poor condition when they contain:

  • Sinkholes
  • Cracks
  • Unlevel lanes
  • A road under repair
  • Confusing or poor street signage
  • Construction debris
  • Narrow roads
  • Bad instructions

If you are involved in a car collision due to poor roads, you might have a valid claim against government agencies responsible for maintaining roads. It means the government agency will become accountable for the injuries and damages suffered at the collision.

Images and Videos

The images and videos gathered after a car collision are essential when determining liability, mainly when the case proceeds to the court. You may use the videos and pictures to prove the other driver's liability after the collision. The videos and images will also help your claim by:

  • Providing graphic and clear proof of personal injuries and property damages.
  • Showing the extent of the collision
  • Help to jog memories you might use to reconstruct the collision site.

So if you are involved in a car collision and walk, grab any device with a camera you have. For many people, that's a mobile phone. If you have a digital camera, you may also use it. Before the law enforcement officers arrive, ensure you take as many pictures as you can. Start by turning the video function and capture a 360 degrees view of the collision site.

Take as many pictures as you can. Don't stop to view the images; continue clicking. Remember you have a limited time before the police and paramedics arrive. Remember, the police will clear the collision site as soon as they arrive. The offices want to clear the scene for the traffic to resume immediately. So, move quickly to gather enough evidence of causation and negligence. Note, it's only your time to capture the collision site exactly as exactly it was.

Accident Reconstruction Experts

You may also determine liability in a rear-end collision through accident reconstruction experts. An accident reconstruction expert is an experienced professional with extensive knowledge of engineering, physics, and reconstructing a collision site. The experts gather different factors which might have triggered an accident, like weather, vehicle speed, and visibility. The experts are mostly preferred to determine liability when a collision involves multiple cars.

After analyzing the possible elements causing the accident, the experts help judges visualize the collision site and what occurred. The professional testimony might be used by the court to bring clarity to conflicting eyewitness testimonies. For example, two people who witnessed the collision will come up with different perspectives concerning the accident. So, the reconstruction officers will address the inconsistencies arising from various witnesses.

You want to know each personal injury claim is unique, and you should work with a personal injury attorney. Since most car collisions are straightforward with clear liability, you might not require reconstruction experts. But, your injury attorney will guide you on whether you should work with accident reconstruction experts after a car collision.

Comparative Negligence in California

When the car collision involved several parties, the state’s law allows the court to use pure comparative negligence to determine the liability of the crash. Under comparative negligence, every person/driver involved in the accident will become accountable for a portion of their responsibility. So, as a collision victim, you will still cover a part of your compensation under pure comparative negligence.

For instance, three-car drivers are involved in a collision. Jane ran into a post, and the pole fell on the road. John was overspeeding and hit the bar as he stopped. James rear-ended John's car. So, under comparative negligence, the court will assign a percentage of liability among the three drivers. Jane might be 40% liable for the accident, while John and James are 40% liable for the collision. Note, even when the collision involved multiple parties, all of them might be held responsible for the crash. The pure comparative ensures all the victims of the collision receive compensation regardless of their degree of liability.

Find a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you’re involved in a rear-end car collision in San Diego, CA, you want to determine liability before receiving your compensation. However, determining liability could be complicated based on the nature of the collision. Also, dealing with the court, insurance company, and the police might be tiresome.

That’s why you want to work with a personal injury attorney. Our experienced and competent personal injury attorneys at San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm will help you determine liability after you’re involved in a rear-end car collision. Also, we provide our legal services around the clock. Therefore, you could reach us today at 619-478-4059, and we will provide the best legal help you deserve.