Rear-end collisions are typically minor car accidents, but they can sometimes lead to serious injuries and even death. They are also the most common type of vehicle crashes in all 50 states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions are the most common type of motor vehicle accident in the United States. But who is at fault in a rear end collision?
In most cases, a driver who hits the driver in front of them is responsible for the resulting rear-end collision. But this is not always the case. There are circumstances when a person who rear-ends another is not to blame.
Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Understanding who is at fault in a rear end collision requires a little bit of knowledge of how to rear-end collisions typically occur. Several common reasons for rear-end collisions are detailed below.
Looking down or looking away from the road for even a split second can result in a rear-end collision. And the faster a person is going, the less time they have to react. Sadly, it’s common for drivers to engage in distracting behavior while driving, whether they are looking at their phones or searching for an object in their car.
Drunk drivers lose the ability to safely judge distances between themselves and other vehicles. They also suffer from much slower reaction times. Sadly, driving while drunk continues to be a significant public safety issue and a major cause not just of rear-end collisions but also of other types of crashes as well.
Driving While Fatigued
Driving while fatigued or drowsy is sometimes as destructive as driving while drunk or distracted. It leads to a decrease in a driver’s ability to react in time to avoid a collision in the best of cases and an outright failure to react in the worst-case scenarios.
In some cases, fatigue can reach such a level that a driver falls asleep, putting anything in their path in immediate danger. But a driver does not need to fall completely asleep to be a threat. Hallucinations and blurred vision can occur long before a driver closes their eyes.
Aggressive driving refers to driving behavior that is forceful and puts all other drivers at risk of an accident. Excessive speeding is one type of aggressive driving that substantially compromises a person’s reaction time with respect to cars in front of them and increases the severity of a crash.
Road rage is another type of aggressive driving that also leads to rear-end collisions. Anger compels these drivers to engage in risky maneuvers such as tailgating and excessive speeding, both of which directly lead to rear-end collisions.
Dangerous Weather and Road Conditions
Drivers should only operate their vehicles in ways that are safe for current weather and road conditions. However, some drivers fail to do so and often either go too fast for road conditions or follow too closely behind the vehicle in front of them.
An example of dangerous weather conditions would be slick or slippery roads due to rain or ice. Although a driver may be going the posted speed limit, such weather conditions require them to slow down and maintain a greater distance than normally required for safe driving.
Faulty Brake and Tail Lights
Rear-end collisions caused by faulty brake and tail lights are crashes that are the fault of the driver in front. Without properly working lights in the back, drivers behind them cannot be expected to safely gauge when they should slow down or stop.
Instances When the Front Driver May Be Liable
In addition to having faulty rear lights, instances, when the front driver may be held liable, include the following:
- Suddenly slamming on the brakes in an unsafe manner
- Pulling out in front of another driver in an unsafe manner
- Reversing their car in an unsafe or inappropriate manner or location
Additionally, a front driver may also be held liable for a rear-end collision if they stop on a road or highway where they should not be stopped.
Who Is at Fault in a Rear End Collision?
Determining who is at fault in a rear end collision begins with reviewing the facts of the accident. In most cases, negligence or recklessness is required to place blame at a driver’s feet. Because of this, there are situations where a driver may not be responsible for a rear-end collision if they were not negligent.
Consider an auto shop that works on a particular vehicle’s brakes. If that auto shop fails to properly service the vehicle, the brakes may subsequently fail and lead to a rear-end collision. In a case such as this, the driver, assuming they were not negligent in some other fashion, could potentially argue that the auto shop’s negligence was the cause of the accident.
Likewise, a driver who rear-ends a car in front of them due to being rear-ended by a drunk driver could argue that the drunk driver’s negligence is to blame for the accident.
Evidence of Who Is at Fault in a Rear End Collision
When it is time to seek compensation after a crash, an accident attorney will go to great lengths to find out who is at fault in a rear end collision. In most instances, the attorney will have a variety of evidentiary sources available to them, including these:
- Witness testimony
- Dashcam footage
- Traffic cam footage
- Cell phone records
- Police and DMV accident reports
- Expert testimony from accident reconstruction experts
Have you been injured in a rear-end collision and need compensation for your injuries and losses? Contact the Joel Bieber Firm today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully recovering substantial compensation for car accident victims. If you are from Maryland, you can talk to our Baltimore personal injury lawyer. Thousands have trusted us, and so can you. Call today.