Many different factors can contribute to a vehicle accident. Accidents can range from minor fender-benders with no damage or injuries to serious head-on collisions that result in multiple fatalities. A rear end accident is one of the most common types of collisions. According to a recent news article in the Washington Post, there are around 1.7 million rear-end accidents on roads each year. It’s estimated that about 17,000 people die as a result of these accidents while another 500,000 suffer some type of injury.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) notes that the many of the most common collisions could be prevented if auto manufacturers included collision avoidance systems as standard features on new vehicles, rather than charging customers an additional fee. They estimate that up to 80 percent of injuries and fatalities in rear-end accidents could have been avoided if the vehicles had they were equipped with collision avoidance technology. Until that happens, drivers need to remain alert at all times and able to quickly react to any hazards around them.
No two vehicle collisions are the same. Even a seemingly minor rear-end accident can result in injuries that manifest several days later. If you’ve been in a rear end accident, you need to speak with a knowledgeable California auto accident attorney. The attorneys at Levinson Law Group specialize in auto collision claims, including those arising from a rear end accident in Southern California.
How Negligence Works in a Rear End Accident Case
In any auto accident, you have to show someone was negligent. Negligence refers to when your actions fall below the reasonable standard of care. To show negligence existed, there must be proof there was a duty owed. With an auto accident, it’s pretty simple to show a duty exists as all drivers are required to exercise due care when operating a motor vehicle.
Once you can show a duty was owed, you must prove the other driver breached their duty, which can occur in a number of ways. Some of the more common causes of collisions include:
- Failing to maintain control of your vehicle;
- Not stopping in time;
- Failure to drive at a reasonable speed for the conditions, not just the posted speed limit;
- Not using your turn signals;
- Not paying attention to hazards or the road itself;
- Failure to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you; or
- Not yielding the right of way.
In order for the other party to be found liable, you must show that the driver’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident. And, the final step in proving negligence is to show you have actual damages. Damages can be in the form of physical damage to your vehicle and/or bodily injury.
Establishing Liability in a Rear-End Collision
Most people assume that in a rear-end collision, the fault belongs to the vehicle in the rear. While that is certainly the case in many instances, liability is not always clear-cut in rear-end collisions. There are situations where the vehicle in front may be negligent as well. Some scenarios include:
- A driver’s brake lights are not functioning properly;
- A driver suddenly reverses into the vehicle behind it;
- A driver has a flat tire but doesn’t use their hazard lights or pull over to the shoulder; or
- A driver makes a sudden stop in order to turn, but then doesn’t make the turn at all.
Drivers are required to keep plenty of space between them and the vehicle in front of them, because a vehicle may slow down to avoid a hazard or suddenly stop because of traffic ahead. In the aforementioned examples, both vehicles would likely be negligent; however, the amount of negligence would depend on how much each party’s actions contributed to the accident.
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California is a Comparative Negligence State
Most states, including California, follow the theory of comparative negligence. In a comparative negligence state, the fault is allocated between involved parties. There are two types of comparative negligence — pure and modified. With pure comparative negligence, liability is split between parties and there is no bar to recovery. That means if the front vehicle was 30% at fault while the rear vehicle was 70%, the front vehicle can collect 70% of their damages from the other party. Because it’s pure comparative, the other party could pursue 30% of their damages.
In a modified comparative state, you are barred from recovery if you are over 50% at fault. That means if the front vehicle was 51% at fault, they can’t collect anything from the other negligent party. The other party can collect 49% of their damages though.
How Much is a Rear End Accident Worth?
Most people want to know the answer to one important question — how much is a rear end accident worth? Rear end collision injury settlements can vary based circumstances of the accident and the extent of your injuries. A rear end collision settlement will be different in every case.
Sometimes, it can take several days before injuries are noticeable. Injuries in a rear end accident can also linger longer than other types of collisions. This is because the seat back moves into your body’s torso as your vehicle is pushed forward. A change in velocity levels that are over several miles per hour has enough force to push your head into the headrest. This movement can lead to a number of soft tissue injuries to your neck and back.
Neck and back are the most common injuries seen in rear-end auto accidents, but there are other injuries often seen as well. One of these is airbag injuries. If you are going over 20 mph at the time of the collision, your airbags should deploy, which can cause facial injuries. You may suffer pain where your seatbelt was as well. In serious injury accidents, you may find drivers suffer permanent spinal cord damage or have a traumatic brain injury.
Retaining a Southern California Rear End Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a rear end accident, it’s important you retain a skilled Southern California rear-end accident attorney. The knowledgeable team at the Levinson Law Group specializes in personal injury matters, and we have two convenient offices located in Oceanside and Carlsbad. Contact us online or call our office at 760-642-5475 to schedule a consultation. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve.