Most people assume that in rear-end accidents, the guy in back is always at fault. But is that always the case? When does rear-end collision fault fall on the front driver?
If you rear-ended someone but feel that you were not to blame for the crash, it becomes your duty to prove that the other driver shared some of the fault because they were driving recklessly or negligently.
Why Rear-End Collisions Are Usually the Fault of the Driver in Back
The vast majority of rear-end collisions happen for one of the following reasons. The driver who did the rear-ending:
- Was not paying attention to the road; and/or
- Was tailing the other driver too closely.
These account for 95% of rear-end collisions. In other cases, the brakes of the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle may have given out. In that case, the driver who got rear-ended may have a suit against an auto shop or someone else responsible for the failure.
What Is Tailgating?
Two car lengths is a general metric that provides drivers with a basic standard. However, in cases where there are wet, slippery, or icy roads, two car lengths may not be enough. In other cases, where there’s heavy traffic, maintaining a two-car-length distance from another driver may not be possible. Drivers are cautioned to maintain lower speeds when driving on slick conditions or in heavy traffic.
When Is a Rear-End Collision the Fault of the Driver in Front?
In some cases, if the driver who got rear-ended contributed to the accident, they may be partially or completely at fault.
Let’s say Driver A is at a stop light. He neglects to check to see if any cars are coming and decides to move to another lane without using his turn signal. Driver B crashes into Driver A. In this case, Driver A got rear-ended and may be partially at fault for the accident.
Another scenario: Let’s say Driver A is on the highway. He stops suddenly for no apparent reason. He is struck by Driver B from behind. In this case, Driver A would almost certainly be at fault for the accident.
In cases where one driver rear-ends another, fault may not be as cut and dry as one or the other party being completely to blame for an accident. In the following cases, the front driver may share some (or all) of the blame:
- The driver initiated a dangerous lane change or failed to signal before changing lanes;
- The driver was going well below the speed limit on a highway (without using their hazard lights);
- Something was blocking their field of vision;
- They failed to yield the right of way;
- The driver was driving with one or more failing brake lights; or
- The driver was driving erratically and that made it difficult for the other driver to predict what they were doing.
If You Rear-Ended Someone
If you did the rear-ending, it’s possible to reduce your liability in an accident if you can prove that the front driver was driving dangerously. You are not “automatically” on the hook for the blame because your car rear-ended someone.
Texas uses a modified comparative fault rule. If one driver is more than 50% responsible for an accident, that acts as a bar to recovering any damages for their loss. Even in cases where you are assigned the majority of the blame, you can reduce your liability. For instance, let’s say you are assigned 75% of the blame and the other driver has $10,000 in damages. They would only be allowed to collect $7,500 from you or your insurance policy.
If Someone Rear-Ended You
Chances are high that the rear driver was simply not paying attention to the road when they struck you from behind. In other cases, the driver was following too closely. In most cases, you will be able to prove the other driver is at fault. However, that driver may try to bring evidence that will partly reduce their liability.
Learn More About Determining Rear-End Collision Fault
Regardless of whether you were the front or back driver in a rear-end crash, a car accident lawyer at Brylak Law can help you determine who is at fault for the accident. To learn more, contact us today.