Who Is at Fault in a Rear-End Car Accident?
In the majority of cases, the driver who strikes the other car from the rear is responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. To collect damages, you would still need to prove that the striking driver was negligent.
Showing negligence involves proof that they disregarded their basic duty of safety to other drivers, and that this was the direct cause of the injuries. Examples of this are where the driver disregarded safety rules by speeding, or by driving while drunk.
Liability can be difficult to sort out in “chain reaction” or “pile-up” accidents, where one driver crashes into another car from behind forcefully. This pushes them forward, and they in turn strike the vehicle in front of them, and so forth. With these types of cases, a skilled attorney is needed to review the evidence and determine exactly who is responsible.
Lastly, there can be situations where the driver being struck from behind is responsible or partly to blame for the accident. This can happen for instance if the driver stops for no reason in the middle of the road, or if they are driving well below the posted speed limit. In such cases, their own negligence can affect their ability to collect a damages award.
In fact, the state of Texas has a rule called the “51% bar,” meaning that if a driver is 51% or more to blame for their crash, they cannot recover damages in court. Again, for complex cases like these, the experience of an injury attorney is needed to accurately prove the case.
Is There Anything You Can Do to Prevent a Rear-End Accident?
While certain accidents are unavoidable, there are many steps you can take while driving to minimize the risk of a rear-end collision. For instance, you should avoid driving near people who appear to be:
- Distracted (such as a driver who is on their phone)
- Under the influence (swerving)
- Following too closely
If possible, change lanes and let the person pass. Also, make sure you are always following the speed limit. Perform regular maintenance checks of your vehicle, especially the brake lights, as broken tail lights can contribute to a rear-end accident.
What to Do After a Rear-End Accident
If you are involved in a rear-end accident, the following steps can further assure your safety and ensure that your legal rights are protected:
- Contact authorities — cooperate with them when they arrive on the scene, and ask for a copy of the police report.
- Seek treatment right away — certain injuries like brain injuries might not appear until a few days or even weeks later. But, if you visit a doctor early, they can monitor you and keep an eye out for symptoms.
- Don’t admit fault — exchange information with the other party, but don’t make any statements that can be used against you in court.
- Get in touch with a lawyer — an experienced attorney can help you begin gathering evidence and can negotiate on your behalf with insurance agents.
After an accident, the injured victim may be incapacitated or in recovery, which is why it’s even more important to contact a lawyer. The attorney can begin the process of filing and preparing a case on behalf of the injured person.