It’s a complicated task to determine who is at fault in a car accident. Oftentimes, it’s not so simple as someone hitting a stopped car while trying to park, where they were obviously at fault for not paying attention. In most cases, each driver will have their own version of what happened, but there are also plenty of other sources to turn to when determining who is at fault.
Determining fault in a car accident is a particular challenge when the accident involves someone being rear-ended. If you’ve rear-ended someone, you may automatically assume yourself to be at fault. However, that’s not always the case, as there are many factors that could have collectively caused the accident to happen. Read on for more information about determining fault in car accidents that involve someone being rear-ended.
When a jury or insurance adjuster is determining fault in a car accident, it almost always comes down to negligence. Did one of the drivers involved fail to exercise a reasonable amount of care and caution at the time of the accident? Then he or she may be determined to have been negligent, and therefore at fault for the accident.
There is an existence of duty to yourself and other drivers on the road in order to keep each other safe, and it changes as the driving conditions and expectations change. In many cases, drivers—by accident or on purpose—fail to meet their duty to exercise the most care behind the wheel. A driver could be negligent if he or she fails to:
- Stay a safe distance behind other cars
- Use blinkers or other appropriate signals when turning
- Drive within the speed limit, or even slower if specific road or weather conditions call for it
- Stay in control of the vehicle
- Obey right-of-way laws
- Stop in an appropriate amount of time
- Watch for road hazards
In order to prove that the other driver was negligent, you first have to prove that the driver disobeyed or ignored their basic duty of care to other drivers on the road. You have to be able to prove that their breach of duty caused the accident to occur and that you experienced harm because of the accident, such as a personal injury or damages to your vehicle.
When the Front Driver is Responsible
When it comes to car accidents involving rear-ending, in order to prove that you, as the rear-ender, were not at fault, you have to be able to prove poor driving from the car in front of you. You are expected to follow at a safe distance (so as not to rear-end someone) and account for potential poor driving from others on the road. However, the person rear-ended may also be considered negligent in the action, such as if they:
- Stop suddenly
- Fail to make a turn that they stopped for
- Reverse the car without warning
- Do not act accordingly, such as put on hazards or pull over, if they get a flat tire
- Have brake lights that are out