Why Is the Driver Who Rear Ends Another Car Often Found to be At Fault?

May 27, 2015

In this installment of our Assist and Inform series personal injury attorney Jeff Padilla of O'Mara & Padilla Attorneys at Law shares his thoughts on why the rear-ending driver is often found at fault in collisions.

Who is at Fault in Rear End Crashes?

Why is it that cars are running into each other every day?  As an attorney who helps those injured in such collisions, I have heard many explanations.  These include the unfortunately common, "I was looking at my phone," to some pretty unexpected ones, like, "My child was throwing water bottles at me." The problem for these drivers is there are few excuses for rear ending the back of a car which will allow them to avoid liability for the resulting damages.

What Does California Law Say About Rear End Collisions?

California Vehicle Code section 22350 says you are violating the law if you are driving "too fast for the conditions."  In my years of practice, this is the single most often cited violation in traffic collision reports and I would be willing to wager it is cited in every rear end collision.  Essentially, if a vehicle is following another car and is unable to stop when the other one does, they have violated this statute.   Additionally, Vehicle Code section 21703 permits an officer to cite a driver for following too closely.

Therefore, if a driver is unable to stop and strikes the rear of another vehicle, the officer is likely to conclude one or both of those statutes was violated.  Being able to reference the violation of those vehicle codes becomes the foundation of a negligence claim against the offending driver.