While it is often assumed that the driver who hits another car from behind is always at fault in a rear-end crash, this is not always the case. The determination of fault in a rear-end collision depends on the specific circumstances leading up to any specific accident.
Generally speaking, insurance companies, law enforcement and courts evaluate various factors. This includes vehicle speeds, distance, driver behavior, road conditions and more.
Why others may be to blame
Sometimes, a lead driver is to blame, a following driver is to blame or both parties may be at fault. In some scenarios, a third party may even cause a rear-end crash. Consider the following:
- Sudden and unpredictable actions: If the lead driver makes a sudden and unexpected maneuver, such as slamming on the brakes without a valid reason, changing lanes abruptly or reversing unexpectedly, it can contribute to a collision. In such cases, the lead driver may share or bear the majority (or totality) of the responsibility for the crash.
- Multiple negligent parties: Rear-end collisions can involve multiple at-fault parties. For example, if a middle vehicle abruptly changes lanes or cuts off the follow driver, causing them to collide with the lead vehicle, both the middle vehicle and the following driver may share liability or the middle driver may be solely at fault.
- Equipment failure: If a driver’s vehicle experiences a mechanical failure, such as faulty brakes or a malfunctioning accelerator, which contributes to the collision, the responsibility may shift to the vehicle’s manufacturer or maintenance provider.
Ultimately, it is advisable to seek legal guidance rather than make assumptions about fault in the wake of an injurious rear-end crash. There are so many elements that may be in play that relying on assumptions could cause you to miss out on compensation that is rightfully yours.