Car AccidentsRear-End Collisions: Determining Liability and Fault

June 16, 20240

Being involved in any auto accident can be stressful, but rear-end collisions tend to be more straightforward when it comes to determining who was at fault. In most rear-end crashes, the driver of the rear vehicle is considered liable for the collision. However, there are some instances where the lead driver may share partial fault or liability.

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

There are a few common causes of rear-end crashes:

  • The rear driver was distracted or not paying attention and failed to stop in time. This could be due to texting, adjusting the radio, talking on the phone, or any other distracting behavior.
  • The rear driver was following too closely and did not allow enough stopping distance between their vehicle and the car in front. Safe following distance gives you time to react and brake if the lead vehicle slows suddenly.
  • The rear driver was driving too fast for conditions, such as rain, fog, or heavy traffic. Driving at unsafe speeds reduces your ability to stop quickly.
  • The lead driver stopped suddenly without reason, slammed on their brakes unexpectedly, or swerved into the rear vehicle’s right-of-way.
  • Poor road conditions like wet surfaces and limited visibility made it difficult for the rear driver to stop in time.
  • Mechanical failure of the rear vehicle’s brakes or other equipment prevented them from stopping.

The Rear Driver is Usually Liable

In the majority of rear-end accidents, the courts find the driver of the rear vehicle to be predominantly at fault due to not allowing adequate stopping distance or failing to pay attention. The rear driver has a duty to be aware of sudden stops by the vehicle ahead and to maintain control of their own vehicle. Even if the lead driver stops abruptly, the rear vehicle should have enough space to come to a safe stop without collision.

Exceptions Where Lead Driver Shares Fault

There are some situations where the lead driver’s actions contributed to the crash and they may share partial liability:

  • The lead driver cut off the rear vehicle dangerously and slammed on their brakes.
  • Evidence shows the lead driver brake checked the rear vehicle intentionally.
  • The lead driver reversed suddenly into the path of the rear vehicle.
  • The lead vehicle had faulty brake lights so the rear driver did not realize they were stopping.
  • The lead driver stopped for an obstruction in the road but did not use turn signals or hazards to warn the rear vehicle.
  • The lead vehicle swerved into the rear vehicle’s lane unexpectedly causing them to collide.
  • Road rage or aggressive driving by the lead driver is documented.

Proving Your Case

Rear-end collisions often result in injuries like whiplash that may warrant a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help analyze evidence like:

  • Photographs of damage to both vehicles
  • Police reports with official determinations of fault
  • Witness statements
  • History of traffic violations for either driver
  • Data from the vehicles’ computers or black boxes
  • Road design issues like short merge lanes
  • Weather and visibility at the time of the crash

They can then build a strong argument to prove if the actions of the lead driver contributed to the accident and injuries. Having an attorney demonstrate how the other driver was partially negligent can increase your settlement value or court award.

Get Experienced Legal Help

Being the victim in a rear-end collision can cause chronic neck and back pain, traumatic brain injuries, lost wages, and other damages. Do not settle with insurance companies until you fully understand your legal rights and what your claim may be worth. If you were injured in a Boston rear-end accident caused by a negligent driver’s actions, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation today.

Visit our office at 15 Broad St #800 Boston, MA 02109.

Or call now for a free consultation on (617) 263-0860.

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