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My Car Has been Rear-Ended Can I Be Held Liable?

April 3, 2022 Personal Injury Lawyers

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports rear-end collisions make up almost half of all two-vehicle accidents. Most people have a misconception about rear-end accidents and that the driver who rear-ends a vehicle is automatically the party at fault. While this may be true much of the time, there are instances where the front driver is partially or solely responsible for rear-end accidents.

The top three causes of rear-end accidents are distracted driving, speeding, and following too closely behind another vehicle. While studies show that most rear-end accidents are caused by the rear driver engaged in one or more of those three factors, it is also a fact that the front driving vehicle is at least partially at fault in some rear-end collisions.

There can be mitigating circumstances that allow for a defense for the rear driver. All drivers of motor vehicles are responsible for safely operating their vehicle and obeying all traffic laws, traffic signs and signals, and road safety rules. The following may be some of the reasons a front driver might be at fault, even partially, in a rear-end collision:

  • Failure To Signal
    Looking in the rearview or side mirror in order to determine if you can change lanes must be accompanied by a turn signal as well as the space and speed in which to execute the lane change. Making lane changes without these factors present is illegal and the cause of many rear-end collisions.
  • Slamming on Brakes
    New drivers can often be nervous in traffic situations which may cause them to unnecessarily slam on their brakes. They may perceive a danger when there is none or may overreact or overcompensate due to a perceived threat from another driver even under normal driving conditions.
  • Repeatedly Braking
    Some drivers may “ride” their brakes or break constantly due to poor driving habits or they could simply be careless or thoughtless drivers putting everyone including themselves at risk for injury or fatality.
  • Aggressive Driving
    Road rage has been a growing problem in the last five to ten years and is the cause of many accidents because of “revenge” driving such as cutting off another driver which causes that driver to rear-end their vehicle. Aggressive driving can also include driving too fast or too slow for traffic conditions or in bad weather. Many drivers on the road are in a state of constant hurry which creates dangerous situations for everyone.
  • Faulty Tailights
    Keeping your vehicle in proper working order, including its lights and signals, keeps you and everyone else on the road safer. It is also a minor traffic violation to drive without taillights for the very reason that drivers need to know what other drivers on the road are doing. Without taillights, drivers try to rely on their perceptions of what they see in the mirror and it can be the cause of accidents.
  • Failure To Yield
    Pulling out into traffic before you are able to do so safely and legally, not yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic or someone who has the legal right to turn before you pass, is another major cause of rear-end collisions where the front driver can be found legally liable for causing the accident.
  • Tailgating
    Tailgating is a sure way to be involved in a rear-end collision. Not leaving enough space between the car in front of you leaves no room in the event the vehicle makes a sudden move, whether it is their own fault or because another vehicle cut them off or a pedestrian or animal darted into the road in front of them. If a police officer sees you tailgating another vehicle you can be assured of receiving a violation for unsafe driving.

There are also times that a rear-end collision involves three or more vehicles and the middle vehicle can be forced into a rear-end collision with the car in front of them. It could be possible in this case that the middle driver is not at fault at all and the liability rests with the third vehicle.

After knowing all the facts of a rear-end collision case, an attorney has the resources to successfully litigate on your behalf if you were the rear driver in a rear-end collision, and the accident was at least partly the fault of the front driver.



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