If I rear-ended someone but they didn’t have insurance at the time of the accident, what happens?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If I rear-ended someone but they didn’t have insurance at the time of the accident, what happens?

I was turning left behind the lady in front of me, and we were both getting out of the intersection in a red light after the solid green yield light had turned yellow and then red. We had to wait for on coming cars that went through the intersection while the light was yellow. The light turned red and she started to make the left turn and I followed. We went about 5 feet, and then she slammed on her breaks because an on coming car ran the red light. The car

that ran the red light was not involved in the accident, and left after they slammed on their breaks to miss the lady driving in front of me. Her bumper has a small dent from my bumper, and neither of us was hurt because of the low speeds. She didn’t have her insurance card on

the day of the accident. She said that she had to find it at her apartment. Then she sent me a copy of her new insurance card but it is not valid until next week. She wants me to pay for her bumper but I feel like it is equally both of our faults because of the driver that ran the red light causing the accident. What can I do in this situation?

Asked on August 13, 2016 under Accident Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Since you rear-ended the vehicle, you are liable for the property damage (cost of repairs); however, you might not be one hundred percent liable because CA has comparative negligence. 
Comparative negligence assesses a percentage of liability to each party who was at fault.  Since the vehicle that ran the red light caused the accident, that vehicle would be partially at fault and therefore your percentage of liabiity would be less than one hundred percent.
It would be advisable to refer the matter to your insurance company which will pay for the repairs or a percentage of the repairs to the other driver's bumper.

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