Liability in a rear-end collision often seems pretty straightforward. The rear driver may have caused a collision for any number of reasons: distraction, tailgating, or simply failing to pay adequate attention to what happened out on the road. However, sometimes, liability in rear-end collisions might look different than you think.
If you have suffered injuries because of a rear-end collision, having a lawyer on your side may make it easier for you to establish all the details of your accident, which may, in some cases, prevent you from facing full liability for the accident.
Who Is Usually at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
In most rear-end collisions, the rear driver is at fault, and that driver’s insurance company will likely have to pay out damages to the other driver. However, the rear driver may not always bear liability for a rear-end collision. Careful examination of all evidence from the accident can make it easier to determine which driver bears liability – or to identify whether the front driver acted negligently, leaving that driver partially liable for the accident.
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When does the Front Driver Share Liability for a Rear-End Collision?
Rear-end collisions may be more complicated than they seem at first. While it may seem obvious that the front driver bears liability for the accident, sometimes, a deeper investigation may uncover further details that contributed to the accident–and that may leave the front driver partially or fully liable.
The Front Driver Suddenly Reverses
For the most part, on the road, vehicles need to travel forward. While, in some cases, vehicles may need to back up and turn around, drivers must carefully take a look at everything around them before putting the vehicle in reverse. A driver that reverses suddenly, from trying to back up out of an intersection to rolling backward on a steep hill, may bear liability if their vehicle rolls suddenly backward.
The Lead Driver Deliberately Slams on the Brakes for No Reason
Some drivers will decide to conduct a “brake check” if they notice another driver traveling too close behind them: they will deliberately slam on their brakes, often for no good reason. Unfortunately, that behavior can substantially increase the odds of a collision. Determining that the other driver conducted a brake check deliberately can prove difficult, but may be well worth it when it comes to establishing liability for the accident.
The Lead Driver Pulls Over in Front Suddenly
On interstates, highways, and other two-lane roads, vehicles change lanes regularly. Vehicles may also need to merge into traffic, which makes it necessary for them to match the speed of other drivers around them. However, sometimes, the lead driver may pull over suddenly in front of another vehicle and either slam on their brakes or travel at a much slower rate than the other vehicles in that lane. The rear driver may not have adequate time to react in order to prevent a collision.
The Lead Vehicle does Not Have Working Tail Lights
Taillights serve as a vital indication of a driver’s intentions: most importantly, that the driver has slowed the vehicle or intends to stop. Those brake lights serve as a warning to the driver in the back. If the front driver does not have working brake lights, however, the rear driver may not get the memo. It can prove very difficult to judge another driver’s speed, and the lack of brake lights can make it much more difficult for the rear driver to stop in time to avoid a collision.
If the lead vehicle does not have working tail lights, the lead driver may share liability for the accident.
What Should You Do If the Front Driver Causes a Rear-End Collision?
You hit the vehicle in front of you and instantly know that the other driver’s negligence contributed to the accident. Perhaps the other driver pulled out in front of you. Maybe the other driver brake checked you.
You might even have gotten into an accident with a driver that rolled backward, instead of accelerating properly on a hill. Now what?
Contact the Police
Even in cases that do not involve serious injury or even substantial property damage, you may want to summon the police. The police can give you a better idea of what caused the accident and what you need to do next. Often, the police can help collect evidence related to the accident, which may make it easier for you to establish that the other driver caused the collision.
Look for Witnesses
It can be very difficult to prove that the lead driver caused a rear-end collision. Often, you will need substantial evidence to show what really happened, and it may prove more difficult to establish liability than other types of collisions. Witness testimony can prove essential.
Present Dashcam Footage, If Relevant
If you have a dashcam, this is one of those times when it could be incredibly helpful. Dashcam footage can clearly show that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident, instead of leaving liability firmly on you.
Get a Lawyer to Help
If you have trouble establishing that the front driver caused a rear-end collision, do not try to handle the search for evidence or the associated injury claim on your own. Instead, get a lawyer’s help as soon after the accident as possible. A lawyer may be able to access traffic camera footage, help witnesses give more accurate statements, or find other evidence that can help showcase who caused the accident.
Contact a Lawyer After a Rear-End Collision
If you were involved in a rear-end collision caused by the front driver, you may need a lawyer’s help to manage your claim. A lawyer can help fight to protect your rights and to fully establish who actually bears liability for the accident. Contact Pacific West Injury Law today to learn more about your right to compensation and your next steps.
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