Who’s at Fault in a Rear-end Collision?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car crash in the United States. They make up 29 percent of all traffic accidents across the country and are responsible for causing thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Although it is commonly assumed that the trailing driver is always at fault in a rear-end collision, there are some circumstances in which the front driver may be partially responsible as well. If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, it is essential that you consult with an experienced San Francisco car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you understand who is liable and what compensation you may be entitled to. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose today by calling (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation.

What Is a Rear-End Collision?

A rear-end collision is a crash in which a car is hit from behind by another car. Most rear-end collisions involve two vehicles, but some involve three or more vehicles, often referred to as a “pile-up.” This occurs when one vehicle rear-ends another, pushing that vehicle forward into the one in front.

The most common causes of rear-end collisions are:

  • Speeding or tailgating – Driving over the speed limit or too close behind another vehicle may mean a driver does not have adequate time or stopping distance when they need to stop or slow down. Speeding and tailgating are even more dangerous under hazardous road conditions.
  • Distracted driving – When a driver is not paying full attention to the task of driving, such as texting while driving, they may fail to slow down or stop in time to avoid a crash.
  • Driving under the influence – Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol suffer impaired judgment increasing their chances of causing a crash.

Understanding Fault in a Rear-end Collision

In most cases of rear-end collisions, the trailing driver is assumed responsible for causing the accident. However, there are some instances where the leading driver may be partially or fully to blame. Examples of rear-end collision scenarios in which the leading driver may be liable include:

  • Unsafe lane change or U-turn – A driver making a lane change or U-turn must yield to oncoming traffic. If they fail to do so, they may unexpectedly enter oncoming traffic without giving other drivers enough time to slow down to avoid a crash.
  • Sudden change in speed – If a leading driver is speeding and suddenly slams on their brakes, they could be held partially responsible if they are hit from behind.
  • Malfunctioning brake lights – Brake lights serve the purpose of notifying other drivers that a vehicle is slowing down or stopping. A driver who fails to replace a broken brake light can be held partially liable if a rear-end collision occurs.
  • Pile-up collision – Depending on the specific circumstances of a pile-up, fault may be shared between two or more drivers. For example, if a driver is speeding and rear-ends the car in front, they would be liable for the accident. If the front car driver followed behind another vehicle too closely and rear-ended that car, they would also be responsible for the accident.

Determining fault in a rear-end collision can be a complicated task involving investigating the accident’s details and gathering evidence to support a claim. If you have been involved in a rear-end collision in which you believe the leading driver may be partially or fully to blame, consider speaking with a San Francisco auto accident injury lawyer who can assist you in understanding your options.

Options for Recovering Damages from a Rear-end Collision 

California is an “at-fault” state, meaning that the driver responsible for causing a rear-end collision must pay for injuries and property damage caused to other parties. California law requires all drivers to carry liability coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. Therefore, if you have been injured in a rear-end collision that another driver caused, you have the right to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. An alternative option is to file an insurance claim with your auto insurance company, which will then make a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. In some cases, insurance payouts do not adequately cover the losses caused by an accident, particularly in the event of severe injury. In this case, a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver may be required to recover fair compensation.

The Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose are Here to Assist

Determining fault in a rear-end collision is not always a simple task. While a trailing driver is most commonly assumed to be responsible, the specific circumstances which led to the crash may provide evidence that the leading driver was either partially or fully to blame. San Francisco auto accident injury lawyer, Daniel S. Rose, has extensive experience in handling car accident cases. He can help you to determine who was at fault in a rear-end collision and gather evidence to support your claim. He can also help you calculate the true value of your damages and will work tirelessly to pursue fair compensation for you, whether through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose today by calling (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation.