Because California is such a large, populous state, the number of vehicles on the roads increases the likelihood of being involved in a car crash. There were 3,316 fatal car accidents in California in 2019. However, most motor accidents are not fatal. One of the most common non-lethal types of car accidents is a rear-end crash.

Many people assume that because the car behind usually initiates contact with the leading vehicle, they are automatically at fault. While the rear driver is usually the liable party in rear-end collisions, there are some exceptions. With the adoption of comparative negligence in California law, there is always a chance that the lead driver is liable to some degree.

In any auto accident, the key to resolving fault is to determine negligence. In California, rear-end accidents fall under the rebuttable presumption that the second car holds liability for the accident. This means that while it’s likely to be the fault of the car behind, this presumption must be clarified before negligence is concretely determined.