Visitor Question

Partial Fault for Rear End Collision?

Submitted By: Joe (California)

I was driving and came to almost a complete stop with my steering wheel turned toward the right when I was hit from behind (the car behind me hit the left rear of my vehicle with his front right, he was going about 50 mph at impact).

The impact pushed me forward and I hit the car in front of me. Then I felt another impact from behind (almost at the same time as the first impact) and it forced me into the right lane, causing me to hit the car on the right lane.

The car on the right told police he was behind me when the accident occurred. He must of passed me somehow and I hit him with my front right to his left rear. The police gave the car behind a ticket since he was at fault. The police also said I was partially at fault for making an unsafe lane change. Is he on crack?

How can I be held liable for an unsafe lane change when I was hit from behind and that’s what caused me to go into the other lane?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Joe,

From the facts you present this was a complicated collision. When multi-vehicular collisions occur, each driver’s insurance company institutes an investigation. The insurance companies’ investigators are referred to as “Claims Adjusters.”

No driver is automatically liable because a police officer issues them a citation.

We presume sometime shortly after the collision each driver and owner reported the collision to their respective insurance companies.

When you purchase vehicle insurance you are also purchasing investigators and attorneys. No insurance company likes to pay out money on behalf of their insured. When a collision occurs and the investigation commences the Claims Adjuster will study all the facts involved in the collision.

Her investigations can include interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports, taking photos of the vehicles involved in the collision, and more. Once an Adjuster completes her investigation she has to make a decision. The decision is based on her weighing of the facts in the case.

If after investigating the collision your Adjuster believes you had no culpability (guilt) she will probably refuse to settle the case and will turn the case over to the insurance company’s attorneys.

On the other hand if the Adjuster, after weighing the facts and evidence, decides your culpability exists, even if she believes it to be minor, she may agree to settle and pay out money to the other driver(s).

It’s a matter of economics. The Adjuster must take the path of least resistance. The bottom line is protecting the insurance company before protecting their insured. It’s a sad state of affairs when this happens, but it happens all the time.

We suggest you make every effort to convince your Claims Adjuster your culpability was non-existent. After that, just hold on and wait.

Learn more here: California Car Accident Guide

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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