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Is a Rear End Accident Always the Rear Driver’s Fault?

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A rear-end accident occurs when one car strikes the back of another. Because the rear car does the striking, most people assume the rear driver is always at fault. Although the rear driver is usually at fault in rear-end accidents, there are always exceptions. To answer the question more succinctly, no, rear-end accidents are not always the rear driver’s fault.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Rear-End Accidents?

Most rear-end accidents happen because the rear driver fails to pay enough attention. Other common causes of rear-end accidents include speeding and following too closely (tailgating). When someone is driving aggressively or texting and driving, they are behaving negligently. Thus, they can be held accountable for any accidents or injuries caused by their behavior.

Situations Where the Lead Driver Is At Fault

Sometimes, the rear driver simply cannot avoid an accident, or the lead driver causes the collision altogether. Situations where the lead driver is at fault include:

  • The lead driver reversing
  • Brake lights that do not function
  • Drug and alcohol impairment

Without functional brake lights, the rear driver cannot be expected to stop in time to avoid a collision. Lead drivers can also be held liable for driving under the influence and causing an accident with erratic driving behavior. A driver who backs into another will be at-fault for the accident, as well.

Determining Liability

Whether you rear-ended someone because their taillights were out or someone backed into you, you will still have to prove liability if you want to hold them legally responsible. This “burden of proof” also applies if someone rear-ends you!

To prove liability, you must show:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care
  • The other driver failed to uphold this duty
  • You were injured
  • Your injury is a direct result of the other driver’s negligence

In some cases, both parties in a car accident may be partially at fault. For instance, consider a rear-end accident that occurs after someone slams on the brakes. When this occurs, you can recover compensation if you are less than 50% at fault, but you will only recover a percentage of the final damages. To return to the previous example, imagine someone rear-ends you after you slam on your brakes, and you accrue $10,000 in medical bills. If the court finds you were 20% at-fault for the accident, you will only be able to recover 80% of the $10,000 in damages – or $8,000.

Proving negligence and liability is extremely important to a successful car accident case, and every detail matters. Our attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. can dedicate our 100+ years of combined experience to helping you win your case and maximize your compensation.

All you have to do is call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation today.