Rear end accidents are amongst the most common types of car accidents that occur, and generally speaking, the driver of the car that rear ends someone is placed at fault and liable for all property damage and injury. However, liability and negligence in a rear end accident is not always as clear as that. We will discuss some issues of fault, negligence, and liable injuries for rear end accidents.
Negligence in a Car Accident Case
Negligence is the basis for which most car accident claims demand compensation for damages. In a typical car accident, a driver is determined to be at fault due to some type of negligence (also known as a breach of duty). Any damage and/or injury caused by that negligence must be compensated for by the liable (or negligent) party.
Negligence can be defined as a failure to act (or an action) on the part of the driver that unduly places other drivers at risk. Such actions can include speeding, running through a stop sign or red light, turning or changing lanes illegally, driving recklessly, driving drunk, following too closely (typical in rear end accidents) or simply driving inattentively (which can include talking on a cell phone, texting, eating or otherwise not focusing entirely on the task of driving.
When such a negligent act causes injury and/or property damage to another party, the “damaged” party is entitled to compensation to cover all expenses, usually paid out of the negligent drivers insurance policy.
Rear End Liability
Most cases of rear end accidents are caused by the driver of the rear car either following too closely and/or driving too fast to allow them to come to a safe stop if/when the driver in front of the slows or stops quickly.
In the majority of these cases, the driver of the rear car is 100% liable due to his/her failure to drive in such a way as to have time to stop safely.
There are situations where the driver of the rear car is not liable of the damages. This is usually the case when a third party somehow forced an otherwise safe driver into another driver. Commonly, this can be the case in car accident involving multiple cars.
For example, assume there are three cars driving down the highway; driver A, followed by driver B, followed by driver C.
If driver A suddenly comes to a stop, and driver B slams into driver A, then driver B is said to be at fault; either because driver A was following to closely, driver to fast, or both.
However, if driver B came to complete stop, but was then pushed into driver A by driver C, then liable should be placed on driver C, since driver B successfully avoided the accident but was then forced into an accident by another party.
In Real Life
While all this is fairly clear in theory, real life is hardly ever that simple. There are a multitude of variables that can contribute to the occurrence of a car accident, and an investigation will be necessary to uncover, as best as the evidence will allow, the cause of the accident and the liable party.
While most states place liability for damages on the negligent party, other states have adopted a no fault system where, regardless of fault, the damages for each driver are always paid (up to policy limits) by each drivers own insurance.
The states break down as follows:
No Fault States
Lawsuits for Rear End Injury
While no fault states typically don’t allow drivers to file lawsuits against the other driver, in cases where injuries are severe beyond a certain threshold, such as a rear end accident causing permanent injury, then the injured party can file a lawsuit against the negligent party for any damages that go beyond the policy limits of the negligent driver.
Always Talk to a Lawyer
It’s always best to discuss any serious car accident case with an attorney before anyone else. The laws can become complicated and a car accident attorney will ensure your best interests are covered.