If I rear ended a vehicle that abruptly stopped after traveling past the cross walk into the intersection as the light changed from yellow my fault?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 29, 2011

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Insurance Question from Upland, CA

Asked on 01/29/2011

If I rear ended a vehicle that abruptly stopped after traveling past the cross walk into the intersection as the light changed from yellow my fault? The vehicle in front of me went past the white line into the intersection seemingly going through the intersection but made an abrupt stop as the light was changing color. I was coming to a stop and rear ended the vehicle as I was slowing to stop at the white line before the intersection. She must have changed her mind as she was entering the intersection. Is she at fault for entering the intersection then trying to change her mind when it was already too late.

Answer given on January 30, 2011

Unfortunately, even though the other driver stopped suddenly and unexpectedly, you are responsible for the accident, since you rear ended her.  It is your responsiblity to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and be prepared for sudden stops.  It may seem unfair, but if a pedestrian had stepped in front of the other vehicle, she would have stopped just as abruptly.

If the damage to the other person’s car is less than $750, and there are no injuries claimed. your insurance company should not charge you for the accident.  However, if damages for her car, and yours exceed that amount, or the other party was injured, you will be charged for the accident.  Also, if damages over $750 or injuries, you are required to send an accident statement (SR1) to DMV.  If you do not your driver’s license could be suspended.  You have 10 days to submit the form.  You can get a copy of the form from your insurance agent.

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