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It’s an uncomfortable feeling for anyone when a car is following so closely that it feels like it is right on your bumper. Your turn is coming up, and you have to brake, but if you do, the car behind could rear-end you.
In California, tailgating is against the law. Furthermore, if another driver causes an accident by following your vehicle too closely, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your resulting injuries from the at-fault party.
If a driver followed you too closely, crashed into you, and injured you, an experienced car accident attorney can pursue compensation for your injuries and impacts. Contact an attorney to learn about your legal options in your case. Meanwhile, read on for more information about safe following distances and how to obtain compensation after being injured in a tailgating accident.
California’s traffic law states that drivers may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable or prudent, taking into account the vehicles’ speed and the traffic conditions of the roadway. So what is a safe following distance? The answer to that question is that it depends on the vehicles in question.
The primary risk of tailgating is a rear-end accident. Rear-end crashes are often called whiplash crashes. This might suggest that these crashes are not serious. However, more than 1.7 million rear-end collisions on U.S. roadways each year injure about half a million people and kill about 1,700.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has noted that automakers could prevent about 80 percent of these collisions if the law required cars to carry collision avoidance systems. These systems include automatic braking when the vehicle’s sensors detect an obstacle ahead.
Two factors lead to tailgating accidents:
In a rear-end accident, the following driver is usually at fault. However, that is not always a hard and fast ruel.
In some circumstances, the lead car’s driver is liable for the accident, such as:
The most common type of injuries to be incurred in rear-end accidents are to the back and neck. Whiplash occurs to the soft tissues of the neck from the rapid back-and-forth motion of the head. The lead car’s driver typically experiences this in a rear-end accident.
Whiplash generally manifests with pain and stiffness in the neck, tenderness or pain in the shoulder, tingling arms, and a headache that originates at the base of the skull. While these symptoms generally subside within a few weeks, some individuals experience lingering pain for months or even years after the injury. Those who sustain their injuries in high-speed collisions, have had whiplash before, are experiencing existing low back or neck pain, and older victims are more likely to suffer lingering effects from the injury.
In addition to whiplash, other common neck and back injuries sustained in rear-end accidents include:
While the lead driver commonly suffers injuries to the neck and back, the following driver can suffer these injuries, too. Additionally, either driver can suffer severe and even fatal injuries from being ejected from the vehicle in a rear-end collision.
Additionally, either driver can suffer injuries such as:
In California, those who are injured in an accident caused by another driver following too closely may seek compensation for the expenses and other life impacts of their injury.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys prove liability in an accident caused by a car following at an unsafe distance by establishing:
Let’s say you are driving down the road in thick traffic. You follow the car in front of you closer than you would like because the car behind you is on your bumper and you can’t move to another lane. Suddenly, the driver in front of you slams on their brakes for absolutely no reason at all… except to make a point that you were following too closely. The collision results in the vehicle behind you rear-ending you. Who is liable for the accident?
The answer in this scenario could be complex, and the full context would be necessary to provide a definitive answer about who is liable. However, generally speaking, there is potential liability for all parties, as two were tailgating, and the lead driver committed an intentional act to lead to a collision, violating the duty they owe to other drivers to drive safely and legally. You could argue, however, that you were not liable for following too closely as you could not slow down.
Experienced car accident attorneys understand that the cases they encounter will not always involve clear liability of one party. It is best to hire an experienced car attorney for your case who can determine all potential sources of liability and the insurance resources associated with them that can provide you the compensation you deserve.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a driver failing to provide adequate distance between your vehicle and theirs, the expenses and impacts of an injury can overwhelm you. Even so, individuals are often afraid to seek legal assistance because they do not know how much it will cost.
Because legal assistance is such a vital need at this time, most car accident attorneys will hold an initial meeting with you for free. During this meeting, an attorney can evaluate your case, answer the legal questions you have, tell you more about the personal injury claims process, and provide information about the services they can offer to assist you.
If you decide to work with the attorney, they will likely provide a contingency-fee arrangement for their legal fees, which allows them to begin working on your case immediately, with no upfront investment from you. Contact an attorney to find out more about what services they can provide under an affordable arrangement.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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