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Who’s at fault when you brake suddenly?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Determining fault in a car accident can be complex, especially when sudden braking happens. If you slam on your brakes to avoid hitting someone and the car behind you hits you, the situation requires careful analysis.

Rear-end collisions and fault

Generally, in rear-end collisions, the law presumes that the trailing driver is at fault. Drivers should maintain a safe following distance to react to sudden stops. But this presumption is not absolute. You can challenge it based on the circumstances of the accident.

Sudden stops and legal considerations

When you slam on your brakes to avoid an obstacle, the law considers whether your action was reasonable. If the sudden stop was necessary, you may not be liable. The key question is whether a prudent driver would have done the same in your situation.

Evidence in fault determination

Eyewitness accounts, dashcam footage, and traffic camera videos can provide clarity in determining fault. Police reports and accident reconstructions can help establish whether the leading driver made a justified stop and whether the trailing driver could have avoided the collision.

Comparative negligence

California follows comparative negligence laws. This means that fault is not necessarily attributed to one party. The law considers both drivers’ actions to determine the degree of negligence each displayed. If the leading driver’s sudden stop contributed to the accident, their percentage of fault may reduce their compensation. 

Understanding your rights and responsibilities

Knowing how the law determines fault in sudden brake accidents can help drivers understand their rights and responsibilities on the road. Staying aware of safe driving practices and maintaining a proper following distance can prevent accidents and injuries. It helps create a safe driving environment for everyone.