Rear-end car accidents are not always as cut and dry as they seem. The fault must be determined by the circumstances surround the collision. Let’s take a closer look at some of these situations.
The ‘Rules of the Road’
If someone hits you from behind, it is virtually always his or her fault, regardless of the reason you stopped. A basic rule of the road requires that you be able to stop safely if a vehicle stops ahead of you. So, as a tailing driver, if you cannot stop in time and wind up rear-ending the vehicle in front of you, you are not driving as safely as you need to be under the circumstances.
Vehicle Damage Can Tell the Tale
The other surefire part of a rear-end accident claim is that damage to the vehicles involved usually proves how the accident happened. If the other car’s front end and your car’s rear end are both damaged, there’s no doubt that you were struck from the rear.
Rear-End Accidents Involving Multiple Vehicles
In some situations, both you and the car behind you will be stopped when a third car runs into the car behind you and pushes it into the rear of your car. In that sort of “chain reaction” crash, it is the driver of the third car who is at fault and against whose liability insurance you would file a claim.
However, even if you have been rear-ended, in a few circumstances your own carelessness may reduce your compensation under the rule of comparitive negligence. A common example is when one or both brake or tail lights were out, especially if the accident happened at night. Another example is when a car had mechanical problems but the driver failed to move it fully to the side of the road. So, if your insurance carrier and the other driver’s insurer agree that you were 25% at fault for causing the rear-end accident (even though you were hit from behind), under comparative negligence rules, any settlement award you receive would only compensate you for 75% of your damages.