What constitute “following too closley”regarding a car accident?

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What constitute “following too closley”regarding a car accident?

A woman in front of me lost control of her vehicle on ice. We were all doing well under the limit. She slid sideways on a gradual decline and hit the snow bank spinning. I gave a reasonable distance as I had enough time to quickly brake, feel skidding sideways as well, and then get off the brake and try to steer between her and the oncoming traffic. Her car came to rest straddling the lane and I caught her bumper all down the side of my car as I went by, barely missing the oncoming traffic. Does following too closely apply as she left the road?

Asked on December 17, 2010 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Following too closely is determined by weather, road, traffic conditions, etc. and commonly appears in police reports of auto accidents as a cause of an accident.  The fact that the other driver left the road but was still struck by your vehicle would not alter the finding of following too closely.

A negligence claim is based on exercising due care (that degree of care that a reasonable person (driver in this case) would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to avoid foreseeable injury)).  This will be used to determine "following too closely" despite the precautions that you took to avoid the accident.

CA uses comparative negligence which means that you would NOT be 100% liable for the accident.  The other driver was partially at fault.  For example, if the other driver is determined to be 80% at fault for the accident and you are determined to be 20% at fault, then you would only be liable for 20% of the other driver's damages while the other driver would be liable for 80% of your damages.

I am just using these figures for example.  The actual determination of each party's liability for the accident under comparative negligence will most likely be different than these figures.

If you disagree with the insurance carrier's findings regarding liability for the accident, you can challenge it in court; however, if the police report says that you are liable for the accident due to following too closely, it will be very difficult for you to prevail as the court relies on the police report's determination of the cause of the accident.

 


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