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How Can I Prove I Was Rear-Ended?

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Posted on August 10, 2023

Each year there are more than 1.7 million rear-end car accidents in the United States, causing about 500,000 injuries and 1,700 deaths. The majority of these impacts occur when the vehicle in the front is completely stopped and the vehicle that hits them is driving at full speed. The driver in the front vehicle may never know what’s coming or have the opportunity to avoid the collision. Rear-end collisions are the most common cause of serious whiplash as well as many other injuries; they are also a common accident in personal injury lawsuits

In California, the injury victim (plaintiff) must prove negligence on the part of the driver responsible for the accident (defendant). It often takes a skilled car accident attorney to investigate the accident to find evidence of how and why the rear-end collision occurred so the injury victim can recover compensation for property damages, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

How Do Most Rear-End Collisions Occur?

Distracted driving is the number one cause of rear-end collisions. A steady rise in this type of traffic accident coincides with the rising popularity of cell phones. There are six ways that rear-end collisions commonly occur, including:

  • One vehicle drives too close behind a vehicle in front (tailgating)
  • A car slows down for traffic and the driver of a vehicle behind it doesn’t slow down and slams into the rear of the front vehicle
  • A driver assumes the car in front of them will drive through a yellow light but the front driver brakes, causing the back vehicle to collide with the rear of the front vehicle
  • A traffic light turns green and a driver assumes the car in front of them will accelerate and begins moving forward, causing a collision when the front car driver doesn’t move
  • Two vehicles are in motion in the same direction but at different rates of speed. The rear driver overtakes the front vehicle by failing to properly adjust down their speed, causing a rear-end collision
  • A front driver slows for a turn but fails to use a signal light so the rear driver isn’t aware that the front driver has slowed for a turn

Distracted driving due to cell phone use, adjusting a sound system, or setting a GPS is the most common cause of rear-end collisions, but also cited in rear-end collision cases are aggressive driving or road rage, intoxicated driving, drowsy driving, and poor weather conditions.

Finding Proof of Rear-End Collision Accidents

Gathering evidence of fault in a rear-end collision takes an investigation including searching for and reviewing video camera footage from traffic cameras, dashcams, and nearby home and business surveillance videos and gathering eyewitness testimony. A thorough investigation includes:

  • Examining cell phone data to see if the rear driver’s phone was in use at the time of the crash
  • Looking for skid marks on the road where the accident occurred. No skid marks typically mean the rear driver wasn’t aware that they were about to hit the vehicle in front of them due to distraction
  • Examining photographs of the damaged vehicles to check that the damage to the rear vehicle aligns with the damage to the front vehicle
  • Checking the brake lights on the front vehicle to ensure that they were working at the time of the crash

Fault in Rear-End Collisions

The rear driver in a rear-end collision is most commonly the driver at fault in the accident, but in some circumstances, the front driver may share fault or be entirely at fault. For instance, if the front driver’s brake lights weren’t working at the time of the accident or if the driver stopped suddenly in an intersection or on a major highway.

Rear-end collisions cause painful and sometimes severe injuries, especially when the rear vehicle is a large commercial truck that hits a small, private vehicle. If you or a loved one have been injured in a rear-end accident, a skilled San Diego car accident attorney is the best ally in proving fault and liability for this type of accident. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation.