California Laws Related to Rear End Auto Accident Claims

California laws related to rear end auto accident claims are important because the Golden State is home to some of the highest traffic volumes on freeways and surface streets in the country.  This leads to countless rear-enders every year from persons traveling too fast or following too closely.  Many of the incidents are fairly low impact when they occur in slow moving traffic, but at even moderate rates of speed they can cause significant bodily harm.

What are the basic California Vehicle Codes that apply to rear-end collisions?

There are two, principal statutes that come into play when analyzing the legal responsibility of parties in a collision from behind.  These incidents are nearly always deemed the fault of the party who strikes from the rearmost position.  These provisions are as follows:

1. California’s Basic Speed Law (CVC 22350): While speed limits vary depending upon many factors including the type of roadway, if in a residential or commercial zone, the proximity of schools or school buses and any number of other issues, there is one “basic speed law” in California, which is as follows: “No person should travel at a speed that is greater than is reasonable or prudent” given all roadway conditions including traffic volume, weather conditions, visibility, the wetness or dryness of the pavement, the width of the road, and all other circumstances at any given time and should never drive so fast that it “endangers the safety of persons or property.” (emphasis added)

2. Following Too Closely: (CVC 21703): This California statute is vary depending upon many factors including the type of roadway, if in a residential or commercial zone, the proximity of schools or school buses and any number of other issues, there is one “basic speed law” in California, which is as follows: “No person should travel at a speed that is greater than is reasonable or prudent” given all roadway conditions including traffic volume, weather conditions, visibility, the wetness or
dryness of the pavement, the width of the road, and all other circumstances at any given time and should never drive so fast that it “endangers the safety of persons or property.” (emphasis added) similar and states that no person should operate a motor vehicle closer to the person in front of them than is judicious given all factors including the speed of all surrounding cars and the conditions of traffic including congestion.

Simply stated, you can be charged for speeding even if you were traveling under the posted speed limit if the traffic conditions are such that a slower speed is mandated for your safety and the safety of others on the roadway. Also, use commonsense when following another vehicle since the faster you are going, the more distance you need to come to a complete stop.

The 3-second rule dictates basic driver safety and the physics of following another vehicle

Most driving safety education materials and instructors will tell you that you should use a three-second rule to determine a safe following distance from the automobile ahead of you.  What does this mean?  Pick a fixed object such as a bridge, road sign or building coming up alongside the road.  When the car ahead of you passes that fixed point, count off three seconds and make sure your car does not pass that same fixed point of reference before the end of that three second period.  This rule assumes that the road conditions are good and the pavement is dry.  In rainy weather, even more room should be allowed.  You should never tailgate another person to get them to “move over” nor should you follow the car in front of yours more closely due to persons behind you tailgating your vehicle.

Common injuries and symptoms that occur from getting hit from behind

Basic laws of physics dictate that bodies at rest tend to stay at rest and bodies in motion remain in motion.  The unfortunate way this plays out in a crash from a rear-end collision is that your car comes to rest but your body gets propelled forward and then back. The most common injury that results is damage to your head and neck.

”Whiplash” is the common term for derangement of the cervical spine and the discs in between caused by immediate trauma. These injuries are also referred to as “soft tissue” since there are no broken bones, though there is certainly stretching and tearing of ligaments and muscles in your neck and back.

The brain is also a floating organ in your head that can be slammed from one portion of your skull to the other as a result of sudden jerks forward and then back.  On the scale of seriousness, this can mean minor discomfort or stiffness for days or weeks following the incident to major complications such as a cervical or thoracic disc protrusion or herniation and/or a major concussive disorder.

Symptoms from soft tissue or whiplash injuries range from head pain, neck pain, and numbness to shooting pains down your extremities or arms or legs.  Most minor neck and back injuries can usually be treated with proper and sustained physical therapy over several weeks.  Severe spinal disc issues, however, may require surgeries such as a microdiscectomy or fusion of the vertebrae above and below the herniation. Long-term or permanent disability from a spinal injury is a possibility that can significantly affect your lifestyle.

Head trauma from rear-end crashes or from any other accident should always be taken seriously and symptoms such as headaches, memory loss,  and loss of feeling should always be addressed with proper consultation with a neurological specialist and diagnosis from CT or MRI radiographic studies.

Seek medical attention immediately

Common whiplash injuries are often not verified by x-rays though symptoms of pain are very real if you are the victim. If your accident did not result in significant property damage to your vehicle, the responsible party’s insurer will seize on this to allege that you were not seriously injured, if at all.

One way to confirm that your injuries are real and were caused by the accident is to promptly seek medical attention following an accident. In many cases, your symptoms may not manifest for several days and you may only notice headaches, sleeplessness, nausea, irritability or soreness. Once you note these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention as they often worsen over time. Also, by delaying treatment, you enable the responsible party’s insurer to doubt your credibility regarding your injury.

Contact us for a free confidential consultation

If you have suffered personal injuries in an accident, it’s important to consult with a skilled personal injury law firm right away. Please contact the California Personal Injury Attorney at the Law Offices of Alex G. Tovarian for an immediate complimentary consultation and analysis of your case.

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