If I was hit from behind at an intersection while waiting for a red light, how can I prove that I was not at-fault?

UPDATED: Jun 8, 2014

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If I was hit from behind at an intersection while waiting for a red light, how can I prove that I was not at-fault?

The person who hit me filed a claim and this accident went through an investigation. Today, I received a letter from this insurance company which indicates that it’s not the fault of the person who hit me and says that I backed my car up. This is not truth. In the letter, they said I need to provide more evidence. I was looking for a camera at that intersection but there is none. My hubby told me by comparing the measuring of the damage on my back bumper and the front licence plate of the other person’s, it can prove that my car was still, not moving. But how can I get this help?

Asked on June 8, 2014 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

First of all, the other insurance company is NOT a court: their opinion is not binding and, of course, they have a financial incentive to "conclude" it was not their driver's fault--if it were, they'd have to pay out money. You do not need to take their determination as the last word, but can instead sue the other driver for the damage to your car if he or his insurer will not voluntarily compensate you.

You are (presumably) not an accident reconstruction specialist, so your measurements of or opinion about the damage will have no real wait--for a "scientific" comparison, you need an accredited expert. However, you may not need that:

1) Generally, the law presumes that the rear driver was at fault, because it was his obligation to have an adequate following distance, be alert, and brake in time. That's not to say that the front driver is never found at fault, but that's rare, and in a lawsuit, the rear driver would typically have to put in compelling evidence in his favor to overcome the presuption that he was at fault.

2) You can testify to the facts of the case as a witness: e.g. that you were stopped at the light, not backing up, and the other car hit you. The other driver can also testify, of course, and the fact finder (the judge and/or jury) will weigh who's more  credible and who's testimony better matches with common sense and everyday experience. For example, most of us know that usually, people are not backing up at lights (and if they are, such as to clear and intersection, not fast to enough to do damage) and that if the cars are damaged, it's usually because the rear driver didn't brake in time).

Even if you choose to not sue, to make you pay anything, the other drive or his insurer would have to sue you and win--otherwise, they can ask for money from you, but can't make you pay without a lawsuit.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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