Is the Car that Rear-Ends Another Always at Fault?
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Rear-end crashes are the most frequently
occurring type of collision, accounting for approximately 29 percent of all crashes and resulting in a substantial number of injuries and fatalities each year.” If the same proportions hold true for the car crashes and deaths in Chatham County, where Savannah is located, then almost 4,600 collisions and 1,100 injuries would result from rear-end accidents here every year. Between eight and 15 persons would die.
Determining who is at fault in a rear-end car accident initially seems straightforward. Typically, the trailing car fails to brake in time to avoid a collision, which indicates the trailing car’s driver bears fault for traveling too fast or following too close to the lead car.
If you’re in a rear-end collision, however, you may find yourself wondering, “Is the driver of the car that rear-ends another always at fault?” The short answer is No. Rear-end accidents are not always the fault of the trailing driver.
Examples of Lead Driver Fault in Rear-End Accidents
Here are some examples of how fault may lie with the lead driver in a rear-end accident. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it demonstrates how the seemingly straightforward assumption that the trailing driver has all of the fault doesn’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny.
- The lead driver slams on the brakes suddenly and for no reason. A sudden, unexpected stop by the lead driver could make it impossible for the trailing driver to avoid a rear-end collision no matter how safely the trailing driver was operating. In the most extreme example, a lead driver who pulls a “brake test” on the trailing driver by slamming on the brakes for no reason (a common road rage tactic) may bear fault for a resulting -end accident.
- The lead driver signaled for a turn and slowed, but didn’t take the turn. A driver who fails to behave according to the rules of the road may bear partial liability in an accident case due to negligence. In the case of an aborted turn, the lead driver’s unpredictable behavior may leave that driver at fault.
- The lead driver’s brake lights fail to function. A lead car with broken tail lights cannot signal a stop to trailing drivers. It is the lead driver’s responsibility to maintain those lights. Failure to do so may place fault for a resulting rear-end accident on the lead driver.
- The lead driver drives in reverse. In general, it is assumed that traffic will travel forwards. It is not reasonable to expect other drivers to anticipate a car driving in reverse in a roadway. The driver of a car traveling in reverse may therefore have fault for a rear-end accident.
In all of these cases, the lead driver may be held either partially or entirely responsible for the damages associated with the accident. An experienced Georgia car accident attorney can help you determine who may bear fault in your rear-end motor vehicle accident.
Seeking Legal Help After a Rear-End Collision
If you were in a rear-end collision, seek legal help to establish liability and ensure that you receive the compensation you’re due for your injuries and property damage. Don’t wait! Contact Hasner Law today at (912) 234-2334 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your rear-end collision and determine whether you have grounds to recover compensation you should be due.