Is it always the driver in the rear's fault for a rear end collision?

by Lenay
(San Diego, CA)

I was pulling up to the curb to park on the street, when the car parked in front of me in the parking space backed up and hit me. She claims I was the one that hit her. How do I disprove that she hit me, not the other way around, since it was a rear end collision?

What I found even more interesting, since I couldn't have been going very fast at all, she immediately claimed back pain. I was barely moving, preparing to simply glide into the parking spot by the curb. She did not have her blinkers on and didn't appear to be leaving the spot at all. I was planning on parking behind her.

I find this rather fishy...and is there any way to check her driving record to see if she has pulled this kind of nonsense in the past?

I was making a left hand turn on to the street and saw the parking spot available so was not going very fast at all, since I planned to park in that spot when she for some reason decided to back up and pull out of the parking space she was in. I almost feel like she was laying in wait for this to happen.

Am I being paranoid, or could this be a scam? Thanks for any info you can provide in response to the above questions.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is it always the driver in the rear's fault for a rear end collision?":

Lenay (San Diego, CA):

California law is clear when it comes to drivers following other drivers. Section 21703 of the California Motor Vehicle Revised Statutes makes clear...

"The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway."

Division 11. Rules of the Road, Section 21703

What is difficult to tell from the facts you present is if you were driving behind her when the collision occurred, or if you were already stopped and the other driver backed into you.

However, the State of California is a Pure Comparative Negligence State. This means in a car collision, the insurance companies and the courts may take into account both drivers' degree of fault, and in so doing apportion percentages of compensation due to one or both drivers.

Because the comparative negligence is "pure," this means even if one driver is determined to be 99% at-fault, that driver may still receive an apportioned amount for the damage. Learn more about pure comparative fault here.

You pay your insurance premiums for a reason - so that in matters like this your insurance company can investigate the circumstances of the collision and protect you (and them) from frivolous claims of property damage and personal injury.

Contact your insurance company immediately. Do so even if you are sure you are not at fault. You have a contractual duty under your the Notice Of Occurrence portion of your policy. If your insurance company determines you were not at fault, it is very likely the collision will not be held against you.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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