Rear-end crashes can cause surprisingly serious injuries, even at relatively low speeds. Because of this, many rear-end crashes end up in lawsuits or high-value insurance claims to seek compensation for the injuries. In many rear-end collision cases, fault is clearly defined. Fayetteville car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how fault is determined in a rear-end car accident and what you need to know if you’ve been seriously injured in a rear-end collision.
Determining Fault in a Car Crash
In any car crash, fault is determined by looking at who was “negligent.” A party is deemed negligent when their care or skill falls below expected standards. If this negligence causes the victim’s injuries, they could be entitled to sue the negligent party for damages.
Damages in a car crash include compensation for injuries, lost wages, and medical expenses. Rear-end crashes commonly cause whiplash injuries and back injuries, which can be somewhat permanent injuries involving ongoing discomfort and periodic treatment.
To be considered negligent, the at-fault driver must have breached some duty they owed the victim. In many car accident cases, the duty is clearly defined by some traffic law or sign at the scene of the accident. For instance, driving drunk, running a stop sign, or driving double the speed limit would all be clear breaches of duty. Alternatively, the duty may be to simply drive with the care and skill that a reasonable driver would use in the given situation. This may help prove fault in cases where a driver technically follows the speed limit but is still driving too fast for road or weather conditions or makes other unsafe decisions that are not precisely against the law.
When determining fault, the judge or jury must look at the totality of the circumstances. One traffic law violation is not always enough to truly determine fault, especially if the victim was also violating traffic laws or driving unsafely. In many cases, juries need to weigh all the factors and determine who carries more fault. Even in those cases, the court may assign partial blame to each party and still allow the victim to recover partial damages. As long as the victim shares less than half the fault, they can still recover compensation.
Who is at Fault in Rear-End Car Crashes?
Most rear-end car crashes occur because the driver in the rear was driving too fast to stop or was following too closely. If a driver rear-ends another driver, it’s difficult for them to prove that they left themselves a large enough following distance to stop in an emergency, as the rules of the road demand. Juries typically rule these cases against the rear driver unless the driver in front did something out of the ordinary to take a share of the blame.
Even though the odds are usually stacked against the rear driver, the rear driver may be able to claim the front driver slammed on the brakes or backed into them. In many of these situations, the rear driver may still share some of the blame. Suddenly “brake checking” the driver behind you is obviously unsafe, but people still choose to do it. If this causes an accident, the front driver may be partly at fault for brake checking, but the rear driver may still share some blame for following too closely. It is up to the jury to look at the full circumstances and see who is more at fault.
In cases where a driver backs out of a parking space without looking, they may be fully at fault. Especially if the other car was stopped when a car backed into them or they couldn’t see the car backing up, the blame may be completely shifted to the driver who was in reverse. While back up cameras have aimed to reduce this kind of crash, many cars are not equipped with these cameras. Moreover, drivers should never fully rely upon their rearview cameras, and they can still be found at-fault for backing into someone else if their camera sensor didn’t beep or the other car was out of the frame.
The last situation where the driver who rear-ends another car might be able to avoid blame is in situations where the front car was stopped or parked in an odd location. If they were parked around a blind turn or stopped in the middle of the road, they may be violating other safety rules. The accident could be the stopped driver’s fault, or both drivers could share the blame, leaving the final decision to the jury.
Our Fayetteville Car Accident Lawyer Can Help with Your Car Crash Claim
If you or a family member was injured in a rear-end collision, talk to an attorney about your case today. Often, the injuries sustained in a rear-end crash can involve serious or permanent pain and discomfort. Talk to Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak today about filing a claim for compensation. Ken Kieklak offers free consultations to help you understand your claim. For your free legal consultation, call (479) 316-0438 today.