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Tailgating Accident Attorneys Los Angeles

Los Angeles is notorious for its bumper-to-bumper traffic. Most drivers in the city and state have experienced driving with someone following them too close. Being tailgated can be frustrating, scary, and annoying because of the increased risk of being involved in a rear-end collision. In some situations, drivers choose to engage in tailgating because of being aggressive and reckless. Other motorists have the right to be concerned when they see another vehicle in their rearview mirror tailgating their cars.

Tailgating can lead to rear-end collisions. According to data gathered by the  Insurance Information Institute (III), there were 2,428 fatal rear-end accidents in 2020, accounting for 6.8% of all fatal collisions in the U.S. The  California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reports that 35.1% of speeding-related crashes that resulted in serious injuries or deaths in 2017 were rear-end accidents. Despite the danger, many drivers continue to tailgate and place both themselves and others at risk. Here's some information about tailgating from the Los Angeles attorneys at the law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC.

Why Do Drivers Tailgate?

Drivers tailgate for multiple reasons. In many cases, motorists who follow others too closely are engaging in aggressive driving behavior. Tailgating occurs when a motorist fails to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them. Tailgating is dangerous because it reduces the ability of the rear vehicle to stop in time and avoid causing a  car accident.

While tailgating is often a form of aggressive driving behavior, it can also be caused by other factors. Some motorists improperly judge the distance between their vehicles and those in front of them. Failing to properly determine safe distances leads to tailgating. Passenger vehicles can gauge the proper distance to maintain behind other vehicles by using the  three-second rule. Under this rule, a rear driver can check the time when the vehicle in front passes a fixed object along the side of the road and then count three seconds. If the rear vehicle reaches the fixed object before the three seconds are up, they are following too close and should fall behind. Large vehicles, including commercial trucks, require longer stopping distances and should allow even more space between their vehicles and the cars in front of them.

Tailgating can be either unintentional or intentional. Regardless of the reason why a driver might be tailgating, the risk of causing an accident while tailgating is serious. This type of driving behavior can cause severe accidents that result in debilitating injuries or deaths. Below are some of the most common reasons why drivers might engage in tailgating.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving and road rage are dangerous but unfortunately common in both Los Angeles and across California. Drivers who engage in aggressive behavior on the roads place others at significant risk of serious injuries. When people become annoyed and frustrated while they are behind the wheel, some take out their anger on other motorists. This often happens in congested traffic, and aggressive drivers tailgate cars traveling in front of them even though the traffic congestion is not the fault of the vehicles they tailgate.

Aggressive drivers might tailgate to try to force the vehicles in front of them to increase their speed so that the rear drivers can reach their destinations more quickly. However, tailgating means that the rear drivers can't stop in time to prevent being involved in an accident when something causes the traffic ahead to slow. When people engage in tailgating because of aggressive driving and cause accidents, they can be liable to pay damages in a resulting accident lawsuit.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a common cause of tailgating behavior. When drivers are distracted by their cell phones and incoming texts, videos, or emails, they take their attention away from the road and might not notice they are too close to the vehicles in front of them. Distracted driving takes people's eyes and attention away from the roads, so drivers might not be able to react to impending dangers that can cause serious accidents.

Distracted driving can involve more than texting while driving. Other forms of distracted driving include checking GPS coordinates, looking at the electronics inside of the vehicle, smoking, eating, drinking, or talking to other passengers inside the vehicle. Drivers can also be distracted by buildings or objects they pass on the side of the road. Whenever a distracted driver tailgates vehicles in front of them, there is a risk they will cause a  rear-end collision with potentially serious consequences.

Driving While Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs

Despite the strict laws in California prohibiting driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, many motorists continue to get behind the wheel when they are impaired. According to the  California Department of Motor Vehicles, 19% of all DUI arrests that happened in the state in 2019 occurred in Los Angeles County.

When motorists are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the substances impair their ability to understand spatial relationships and slow their reaction times. When impaired drivers tailgate others, they likely will not have sufficient reaction times to allow them to react if the front vehicle is forced to suddenly stop. Impaired drivers who tailgate and cause accidents can face both criminal and civil liability.

What Drivers Should Do When Being Tailgated

If you are being tailgated by another motorist, you should do the following things:

  • Don't make eye contact.
  • Plan a way to escape the aggressive or tailgating driver.
  • Try to maintain a reasonable distance between your vehicle and the tailgating car.
  • Do not respond aggressively by slamming on your brakes.
  • Allow the tailgating driver to pass.
  • If the motorist continues to tailgate you, don't drive home.
  • Avoid confrontation if possible.
  • Don't gesture or yell in the tailgater's direction.
  • Maintain a steady speed.
  • On a multi-lane road, move over to the right so the tailgating vehicle can pass you.

If you feel unsafe, you should call 911 and report what's happening. Ask passengers to document the other driver's actions by videoing with their smartphones if possible. Try to get the other driver's physical description and the make, model, and license plate number of their vehicle.

If you are involved in an accident with a tailgating and possibly aggressive driver, call 911 and remain in your vehicle with the doors locked and the windows rolled up until the police arrive if it is safe to do so.

Damages in a Tailgating Accident Claim

The tailgating driver will typically be at fault in a rear-end accident. If you are injured, the following types of damages might be available:

  • Past/future medical expenses to treat your injuries
  • Past/future income losses
  • Property losses/damage
  • Past/future physical pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Emotional/psychological trauma
  • Disfigurement/scarring
  • Reduction in the ability to enjoy life
  • Other losses

The value of a tailgating accident claim will depend on multiple factors, including the severity and extent of your injuries, how long it might take for you to fully recover, whether you shared fault, and others. A Los Angeles injury accident lawyer at the law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC can evaluate your claim and help you understand the damages that might be available in your case.

How a Tailgating Accident Lawyer Might Help

When you are injured in an accident caused by a tailgater, you might have the right to recover compensation for your losses through a personal injury lawsuit. However, you will need to prove the other motorist's liability before you can recover damages. An injury attorney can manage the process for you, gather evidence, make liability determinations, interview witnesses, and negotiate with the insurance company for you. If the insurance company refuses to fairly settle your claim, your attorney can file a formal lawsuit and pursue your case through the court process.

If you are thinking about pursuing a claim against the at-fault driver who caused your accident, it's important for you to move quickly. California has a statute of limitations that places a deadline on filing claims. It is also best to get help as early as possible after your collision to prevent evidence from being lost. When you work with an attorney, you can focus on getting better while your lawyer handles your case for you.

Talk to a Los Angeles Tailgating Accident Attorney

People who are injured in tailgating accidents might be left facing a long period of recovery, missed work, and rapidly mounting medical bills. If you are dealing with injuries following this type of collision, you should reach out to the attorneys at the law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC. Call us today to learn about your rights at 866-966-5240.

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I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.
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