Visitor Question

Rear ended by driver who claims he was rear ended…who pays?

Submitted By: Akang (San Francisco, CA)

I’m car #1 & was rear-ended by a young guy, car #2, however, he claims that someone, Car #3, hit him and then left the scene. Now, this young guy’s insurance (car #2) is refusing liability on my car because they say their insured did not initiate the accident; it was caused by car #3, which is missing in action.

They want me to claim my damages to my own insurance instead of them paying for the damages on my car caused by their Insured. If I do, I have to pay my deductible of $500.

Is this correct or should I sue them? Car #2, a young guy 21 years old, could have been texting or on his cell phone, so when the flow of traffic slowed down, he did not slow down but instead rear-ended me. How do I know? Shouldn’t it be his fault anyway for being so close? Thanks for any perspective.

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 Akang,

It appears the insurance company may be wrong.

Under California’s Motor Vehicle Code Section 21703…

“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.”

It can be argued the driver who collided with you was not following you at a safe distance. If the driver had been following you at a safe distance, the driver would likely not have collided with you.

If the police were dispatched to the accident scene they would have completed a police accident report. Make sure you obtain that report. In it will be a notation made by the responding officer of a traffic citation issued to the driver for following too closely. If the driver was issued a traffic citation you can use it as evidence of the driver’s fault.

In the event the insurance company still refuses to accept liability on behalf of their insured, you do have the right to sue the driver in one of California’s Small Claims Courts. In California the jurisdictional limit (amount a plaintiff can sue a defendant for) is $7,500.00.

For more information on filing a lawsuit in California Small Claims Courts go to: California Judicial Branch – Small Claims

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) 647-2490.

Best of luck!


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