Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

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Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

There are many different things that make a car accident stressful. You have to figure out how to deal with any property damage and personal injury you and your passengers may have suffered, and you must also go about determining liability. After all, you do not want to be deemed at fault for an accident you did not actually cause. All these factors also apply for rear-end collisions as well.

Rear-end collisions are among one of the most common types of automobile accidents. In most cases, it is generally assumed that the fault lies with the driver who rear-ended the vehicle in front of them. Contrary to popular belief, however, this is not always the case. In this blog post, we will go over the basics of determining liability in a rear-end collision and the special circumstances that may absolve the “rear-ending” driver.

How Is Fault Determined in an Auto Accident?

In every type of auto accident, fault is determined by figuring out who was negligent or careless. Every time you get behind the wheel, you take on a certain duty of care to everyone else on the road. In other words, it is your legal obligation to do everything in your power to drive as safely as possible.

Oftentimes, determining liability for an accident may seem to come naturally. You may know just from common sense who was acting negligently, but you may not know just what laws or rules the driver violated in the process. This can make it difficult to argue your automobile accident claim, especially if you do not have the help of a qualified car accident lawyer on your side.

If you have an auto accident or personal injury claim, you will want to make sure you have as much evidence as possible on your side. Having “official” support as evidence can bolster your credibility greatly. This may involve police reports and written accident reports, both of which you may be able to procure a copy of.

What Is Negligence in an Auto Accident?

We have already established that liability for a car accident lies with the driver who was acting negligently. In legal terms, negligence can boil down to a simple “breach of duty to take care.” As we have mentioned earlier in this blog post, every driver has a legal obligation to keep all others on the road safe.

A driver may be considered negligent if they have failed to take all reasonable measures to do Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collisiontheir part to ensure safe road conditions. An even easier way to determine whether or not a driver is negligent might be to simply ask if an accident would have occurred were it not for their mistakes.

The first step to proving negligence is to prove that the driver was under a duty of care at all. Since all drivers are under a legal (not just moral) obligation to keep each other safe on the road, you can go ahead and consider that as good as done.

The next step is to prove that the driver breached that duty of care. This is simply detailing the ways in which the driver proved to be negligent. There are many different ways that someone can breach their duty of care on the road. The following are some of the most common:

  • Failing to drive at a reasonable speed
  • Failing to follow at a safe distance
  • Failing to maintain control of the vehicle
  • Failing to pay attention to the road and look out for hazards
  • Failing to stop within a reasonable time
  • Failing to use turn signals when appropriate
  • Failing to yield the right of way

It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive, and that there are a number of different ways a driver could have acted negligently in your car accident. Ask your insurance agent or auto accident lawyer if you are unsure about whether or not the behavior you experienced could be classified as negligent.

The third step to proving a driver’s negligence is to prove that their breach of duty was the direct cause of your accident. In other words, if they did not act negligently, then your accident would have never happened at all. Finally, you must prove the damages you suffered as a result of the accident. These damages can be either economic (e.g., property damage or personal injury) or non-economic (e.g., pain and suffering or PTSD).

How Is Fault Established in Rear-End Collisions?

It is true that the driver of the “rear-ending” vehicle will generally be considered at least partially at fault for their collision. The reasoning behind this is that all drivers should allow a safe following distance between other vehicles. This following distance exists to prevent accidents should a driver need to stop suddenly. There may be an unexpected hazard in the road or traffic may come to a sudden halt. Whatever the case, all drivers should be prepared for an unanticipated halt.

Yet there are situations where the “rear-ended” driver may be determined negligent as well. These are generally the exceptions rather than the rule. The following lists some of the most common scenarios where this may happen:

  • A driver does not pull over or engage their vehicle’s hazard lights despite having a flat tire
  • A driver makes a sudden stop (e.g., in order to make a turn, then fails to execute that turn)
  • A driver suddenly puts their vehicle in reverse
  • A driver’s brake lights do not function

While all of the above scenarios would likely have the “rear-ended” driver deemed at least partially at fault, the legal impacts of such decisions will vary case-by-case. You must take into consideration both the extent to which the driver’s negligence contributed to the car accident and how your state handles car accidents with multiple at-fault parties.

Seeking Legal Help

If you or a loved one have recently been involved in a rear-end collision or any other type of car accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide auto accident attorneys. Let us fight for you.

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