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Who Is Liable In A Rear-End Accident?

No matter how careful you are while driving, you can’t always say the same about other motorists. Unfortunately, your safety can also be put in the hands of another driver and there are instances when you have no control over the harm that other vehicles can bring to you.

This is proven by the prevalence of rear-end or fender bender accidents, the most common type of car accident in the United States. Rear-end collisions occur when a car crashes into another in front of it. At first glance, it’s easy to assume that the second driver hitting a car from behind is the liable party. However, that’s not always the case. 

The Liable Party in a Rear-End Accident

As a general rule, the liable party is the one that caused the rear-end collision because of the failure to follow safety laws, distracted driving, driving under the influence, etc. In most collisions, the driver that hits a vehicle from behind is found to be liable. The most common cause of their liability is tailgating, which refers to the failure of a driver to observe a reasonable distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them.

However, there can also be cases where the driver that was hit is deemed the liable party. Some instances of these include when the driver who has hit failed to signal at least 200 feet before coming to a stop or stops abruptly, which doesn’t give the driver behind enough warning to stop in time. 

Every driver has the duty to drive safely, to follow traffic laws, and to prevent harm to other motorists and pedestrians. If they breach this duty and cause serious injury to another person, they can be said to be negligent. 

The Negligent Party is Liable  

The negligent party is the one who is liable to compensate the other for the economic and non-economic damages sustained after the incident. The former can include medical bills, therapy expenses, loss of income, etc. While the latter includes non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, decreased quality of life, loss of earning capacity, and permanent disability, among others. 

Some States abide by the doctrine of contributory negligence, which attributes fault to both drivers for the collision. If both were negligent, it has a significant effect on their ability to seek compensation and damages for their injuries. 

Contributory Negligence Standard

Contributory negligence is when both parties can be considered at fault because they were negligent to some extent. For States that follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, drivers are either barred from seeking compensation if they are found to be partially at fault or the value they can retrieve is reduced according to the percentage of their fault. 

If the State requires the former, contributory negligence bars both parties from filing a claim for damages. They can only recover from their respective insurance companies and cannot litigate against each other. 

If the State allows them to recover but reduces the recovery amount by the percentage of their fault, they cannot recover the full value of the damages incurred. For example, if a driver is found to be 50% at fault for the accident, the value they can recover will be reduced by half. 

Both drivers can be negligent and at fault for a rear-end collision in instances when, for example, one driver failed to signal on time and the second driver wasn’t observing a reasonable distance from behind, hence causing a rear-end collision. Both failed to observe traffic laws and best practices, hence partially at fault for the accident. 

Involved in a Rear-End Accident? Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, you need a lawyer who can help you investigate the incident, determine who is liable, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. In some cases, you may even need to take things to court to seek compensation and damages. But this is easier said than done. 

There are elements to negligence in a personal injury case, which can be difficult to establish and prove in court. Some insurance companies may even try to mitigate their payout by deceiving you into admitting that you were partially at fault for the accident. 

An experienced attorney can properly determine who is liable for the collision and aggressively represent your case in court. Most importantly, they can help protect your rights in car accident cases. Our lawyers can build you a solid defense to retrieve the compensation and damages that you deserve. Contact us today and let’s start working on your case.

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Kristin
Weaver

Associate Attorney - Domestic Relations

Denver – Cherry Creek