Tailgating can result in serious injuries. In California, you are required to leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you under California Vehicle Code section 21703. How much room you should leave depends on a variety of factors, including traffic congestion and speed, weather, and road conditions. Generally, more space needs to be left between you and the car in front of you if it is raining or you are traveling through a construction zone. The Los Angeles car accident attorneys at Sharifi Firm can advise people who have been struck by a tailgating driver on their legal options.Holding a Tailgating Driver Liable for Damages
Many motorists may not realize how dangerous tailgating is. However, a driver who tailgates may miss the driver in front of him suddenly hitting the brakes or other road hazards ahead. There is no clear distance between cars that is considered safe in all circumstances. The decision to tailgate can result in a serious rear-end collision.
In the event of a citation for a violation of section 21703, a court will look at whether a driver's distance was reasonable and prudent based on all of the surrounding circumstances. Courts determining liability in a civil action will also evaluate the reasonableness of the space left by a defendant.
If the driver who rear-ended you was tailgating you, it is likely a jury would find that he or she was negligent. To establish negligence, you would need to show the defendant's duty to use reasonable care, the defendant's breach of duty, actual and proximate causation, and actual damages.
Under California Evidence Code section 669, a failure to use reasonable care is presumed when the defendant violated a law that proximately caused death or injury, the injury or death resulted from an accident of the type the law was designed to prevent, and the accident victim was a member of the class for whose protection the law was enacted. When someone violates the California Vehicle Code, they are presumed to have failed to use reasonable care. However, this is a rebuttable presumption.
If the defendant received a citation for violating section 21703, you may also be able to use the doctrine of negligence per se. Basically, this means the court adopts whatever conduct is prescribed by statute as the standard of reasonable care. This doctrine may apply if the defendant violates a safety law or regulation, you are a member of the class that the safety law was designed to protect, and the violation caused your injury.
A plaintiff who is able to successfully establish negligence may be able to receive compensatory damages. These can include special damages, such as medical bills, lost income, household services, and property damage, as well as general damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. The amount of general damages can vary dramatically depending on the composition of the jury and its subjective impressions of what damages naturally flow from a tailgating accident.Explore Your Options with a Los Angeles Attorney after a Motor Vehicle Collision
If you suffer injuries in a tailgating accident, you should enlist a Los Angeles motor vehicle collision lawyer to assert your rights. Sharifi Firm also represents accident victims in Temecula, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Rancho Cucamonga, as well as other Southern California cities. Contact us via our online form or call us at 1-866-422-7222 for a free consultation.