who is at fault in a rear end collision

Have you ever been jolted by the sudden, shocking impact of a car crashing into the back of yours? If you’re driving in Bakersfield, this scenario might not be uncommon. But when it happens, who is really to blame?


Bakersfield streets witness a fair share of traffic turmoil, with rear-end collisions being one of the most frequent types of accidents. According to local traffic reports, these accidents often result from distracted driving, speeding, and sometimes, the unpredictable stop-and-go traffic that characterizes our rapidly growing city. The question of fault, however, isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.


Who is at fault in a rear-end collision in Bakersfield? This blog hopes to answer the question.



Determine Fault in Auto Accidents: Elements of Negligence in Driving

Fault in auto accidents is determined by who acted negligently or carelessly. In California, and Bakersfield is no exception, proving fault involves establishing that someone failed to exercise reasonable care while driving, leading to an accident.


To establish negligence in an auto accident, the following elements must be proven:

Duty of Care

Every driver has a legal duty to obey traffic laws and drive in a manner that does not endanger others. This includes following speed limits, maintaining vehicle control, and being vigilant of surrounding traffic conditions.

Breach of Duty

If a driver fails to fulfill their duty of care, such as by speeding, ignoring traffic signals, or texting while driving, they have breached their duty.


There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the accident. The plaintiff must show that the accident would not have occurred if the driver had not breached their duty of care.


Finally, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered actual damages as a result of the accident, which can include medical bills for bodily injuries, emotional distress, property damage, and financial losses.

Who Is At Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
How Liability is Established

Determining fault typically involves a thorough investigation that can include reviewing:

  • Accident and police reports (SR-1, TCRs, etc.), which provide an official account of the incident and may include observations from law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.
  • Eyewitness testimonies, which can offer different perspectives on the cause of rear-end incidents and help clarify the sequence of events.
  • Video footage, if available, from traffic cameras or dashcams, which can provide conclusive evidence.
  • Expert testimonies, including accident reconstruction specialists who can analyze the physical and mechanical aspects of the crash to establish how it likely occurred.

California’s Take on Rear-End Car Accidents and Crashes

california take on rear end car accidents and crashes

Per Bakersfield rear end law, as with the rest of the Golden State, the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is typically found at fault, based on the assumption that the driver was not maintaining a safe following distance (California Vehicle Code 21703).


However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the leading vehicle suddenly cuts in front of another and brakes hard without cause, the leading driver could be found responsible for the accident.

  • California Vehicle Code 22350 – Basic Speed Law: This law requires drivers to maintain a speed suitable for the given traffic, weather, and road conditions. It’s crucial for assessing whether the rear driver was traveling at a safe speed during a rear-end collision.
  • California Vehicle Code 21703 – Following Too Closely: This statute mandates that drivers keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, considering the speed and road conditions (so, yes, you can’t tailgate). It is frequently cited when a driver hits another vehicle from behind.
  • California Vehicle Code 22107 – Turning Movements and Required Signals: This law obliges drivers to signal their intentions to turn or change lanes within at least 100 feet before doing so. In rear-end collisions, it’s relevant if the front vehicle made a sudden, unsignaled turn or lane change that contributed to the incident.

Comparative Fault in Rear-End Collision Injuries
and Damages

California follows a “comparative fault” system, which means that multiple parties can share fault for an accident, with each party responsible for a portion of the damages based on their degree of fault.


For example, if one driver is deemed 70% at fault for speeding and another driver is 30% at fault for making an unsafe lane change, the damages each party owes are adjusted according to their percentage of participation in the vehicle accident.

Compensation Claims for Bakersfield Rear-End Accidents

When forming a compensation claim after a rear-end collision, including specific elements can strengthen your case:

  • Proof of the other driver’s fault.
  • Documentation of all damages and injuries (medical reports, car repair bills, etc.).
  • Witness statements.
  • Photographic evidence from the accident scene.
  • Police accident reports.

These elements are vital in establishing who is at fault in a rear-end collision and building a solid claim for your losses and damages.

How a Bakersfield Car Accident Attorney Can Assist

Handling a rear-end collision involves more than just dealing with car repairs and medical appointments; it involves legal knowledge and strategic negotiation.


A car accident lawyer in Bakersfield can offer expert guidance through this process. With their expertise in Bakersfield rear end law, an attorney can help in several ways:

  • Assessing the details of the accident to determine fault accurately.
  • Gathering and organizing necessary evidence to support your claim.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies to ensure fair compensation.
  • Representing your interests in court, if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Victim in a Rear-End Crash in Bakersfield?
Call an Experienced Rear-End Collision Lawyer.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation.

If you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision in Bakersfield, don’t let the stress of legal proceedings add to your burdens. Contact RTM Law Firm for a free consultation.


We’re here to help you understand your rights and options, with no fees required until we win your case. Knowing who is at fault in a rear-end collision is a critical step. Next is to let our personal injury attorneys help you secure the compensation you deserve.




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