A rear-end collision occurs when a driver collides with the back of the car in front of them. This type of accident is the most common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2020 saw 1,457,155 rear-end crashes. Of those, 417,062 resulted in injury, and 2,428 resulted in death. The expenses and losses arising from these accidents can be substantial. The person who caused the collision is generally responsible for paying the injured party for damages.
Damages can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages,
- Pain and suffering,
- Repair costs, and
- Loss of consortium.
Yet, the rear driver isn’t always the one liable for these crashes. Depending on the situation, the lead driver may be considered at fault if their negligence contributed to the accident.
If you were involved in a rear-end collision, schedule a consultation with one of our Kansas City attorneys at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. by calling (888) 398-2277 or submitting an online contact form today.
When the Rear Driver May Be At Fault
In a car accident case, the theory of negligence is typically used to determine fault. The theory consists of four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Generally, with rear-end collisions, the rear driver is considered at fault. The driver has a duty to maintain a safe distance (for the given conditions) and watch for any hazards on the road.
A rear driver can breach their duty in several ways, such as by doing any of the following:
- Tailgating: Following too closely makes it less likely that the driver can stop if there’s an unexpected hazard, such as the lead driver braking suddenly.
- Not paying attention: The rear driver may be distracted because they were fiddling with their radio, talking to passengers, eating, or engaging in any other non-driving-related behavior.
- Texting while driving: A driver who takes their eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, to read or respond to a text can travel the distance of a football field without seeing what’s in front of them.
- Not stopping at a reasonable time: The rear driver might misjudge the distance of the car in front of them and fail to give themselves enough time to brake.
- Speeding: The rear driver might have been going over the speed limit or going too fast, given the flow of traffic, road conditions, and weather.
When a driver’s behavior goes below the standard level of care, they can cause an accident that results in injury or death.
When the Lead Driver May Be At Fault
As noted earlier, although the rear driver is usually responsible for a rear-end collision, in some cases, the lead driver may be at fault.
Lead drivers also owe other motorists a duty of care, and a breach of that duty may be the reason they get into a rear-end accident.
Behavior engaged in by lead drivers that shift responsibility to them include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Reversing: The lead driver might decide at the last minute that they want to be in an adjacent lane – perhaps to make a left or right turn – and back up to give themselves room to move over.
- Broken brake lights: The vehicle’s brake lights might not be working – a problem the lead driver may have known they needed to fix – preventing the rear driver from recognizing that the car in front of them was stopped or slowing down.
- Road rage: The lead driver might have been upset at the rear driver for some perceived slight. They might have purposely slammed on their brakes to get back at the rear driver.
Because Missouri is a comparative fault state, insurance companies often hunt for reasons to blame a rear-end crash on the lead driver. Assigning at least partial blame to the lead driver can minimize the amount the carrier has to pay, as the damages can be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Call a Lawyer for Help with Your Case
Seeking fair compensation for damages arising from a rear-end collision can be challenging, especially when the insurance company is working to protect its bottom line. Having a personal injury attorney assist with your case can increase the chances of pursuing a favorable result. Your lawyer can investigate the accident and collect evidence to establish and support a finding of fault. They may also negotiate with the insurance company to counter a lowball offer.
At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., we tirelessly pursue justice for our clients in Kansas City. To speak with one of our lawyers about your case, please contact us at (888) 398-2277.