The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a large study of rear-end collisions and found that they account for 29 percent of all car crashes, making them the most common type of collision in the United States. Determining who is liable in a rear-end collision is not always a straightforward process. Many people automatically assume that the driver in the second car (the rear car) is liable; however, this is not always a simple open-and-shut case. It’s important for police officers, attorneys, and judges to carefully examine rear-end accident cases to determine who is at fault.
Who Is Liable in a Rear-End Collision?
When the Rear Driver Is Negligent
In many cases, the back driver in a rear-end collision is assigned the fault for causing it. Rear drivers can crash into the rear-end of other vehicles when they engage in negligent acts, including the following:
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Following too close
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Drowsy driving
When the rear driver is at fault, you can seek to recover compensation from the driver’s automobile insurance company.
When the Front Driver Is Negligent
While many rear-end accidents are caused by the actions of the rear driver, the front driver may also be to blame in some cases.
For example, front drivers who are distracted by their cell phone, their radio, or something else might be forced to brake suddenly to avoid crashing into vehicles in front of them. This can cause cars behind them to crash into them. Front drivers may also be at fault if they cut off other vehicles, improperly merge, or make unnecessary lane changes. In addition, if the front driver’s vehicle has burned out or improperly functioning taillights, it can be hard for other drivers to see the vehicle at night or during a storm, which can lead to a rear-end crash. Finally, some trucks do not have the proper visibility markings on the rears of their trailers, which can result in serious collisions.
When Third Parties Are Negligent
In some instances, third parties may be liable in a rear-end collision. Some examples of this include the following:
- Manufacturers of defective parts that cause brakes to fail or tires to blow out
- Cities or government agencies that fail to repair the roadways
- Other accidents that are blocking the road
- Pedestrians that suddenly step into traffic
- Other drivers who run red lights or engage in other negligent behaviors that force a driver to suddenly brake
Why Determining Who Is Liable in a Rear-End Collision Is Important
Determining who is liable in a rear-end collision is critical. If more than one party contributed to the crash and resulting injuries, you may have more sources of recovery. And if you fail to name a negligent party in a lawsuit, you will not be able to recover the percentage of liability that he or she is assigned by the jury. An experienced lawyer understands how to conduct in-depth investigations in order to identify all of the at-fault parties.
Finally, if you have been injured, remember that it is important for you to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. An attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave can help you determine who might be liable to pay compensation to you. Plus, your lawyer can work to negotiate with each insurance company that is involved to try to secure sufficient damages to fully pay for all of your financial and non-economic losses. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation by calling us at 417-322-2222 or sending us a message online.