Frequently Asked Questions - Is Fault Automatic In A Rear End Car Accident Case?
Generally, people assume that if you are rear ended in an automobile accident, the fault lays with the vehicle that ran into the back of your car. This is not necessarily the case for all rear end accidents though. The majority of all auto accidents involve a rear end type of accident. It is the most common type of accident because it is so easy for someone to become distracted very quickly. You may not have realized that the traffic ahead of you is slowing down and if it stops suddenly and you’re still driving the speed limit, chances are you are going to collide with the vehicle in front of you. It is always best to remain attentive and aware of your surroundings at all times when you are behind the wheel and refrain from using your cell phone or any other technology unless you are at a complete stop. Otherwise, you could be held accountable for the accident if you rear end someone.
If you are at a complete stop in traffic and someone runs into the back of your vehicle, of course you could have done nothing to avoid the accident; however, if your vehicle is then pushed into the vehicle in front of you, it can be a little tricky. If you are the middle vehicle in a rear end accident, do not automatically assume you are not liable for any damages. If you are rear ended and your vehicle is pushed into the rear of the vehicle in front of you, you could be held partially at fault for failure to leave a safe enough distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. This is called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is when you’re involved in an accident and you and the other party are both at fault. Insurance companies are always happy to assign as much blame as they can on the other party as that means less money they have to pay out for their insured’s negligence. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s hard to get out of unless you have an experienced, aggressive attorney on your side. Attorneys fight for their client’s rights and do everything in their power to overturn the insurance company’s rulings, even if this means having to file a lawsuit and take them to trial.
Another scenario that could leave you partially at fault for an accident is weaving in and out of traffic, unintentional or not. If you’re driving down the road and suddenly realize that you need to be in the other lane and you swerve over but then decide to change your mind half way into your merge and then get back into your original lane, chances are the vehicle behind you has already sped up and if that vehicle rear ends you as you get back into your lane, you will more than likely be deemed partially, if not fully at fault. If you decide half way through a merge that you do not in fact need to be in the next lane, the safest thing you can do is continue with your merge, put your blinker on and then move back into your original lane when it’s safe to do so. A lot of accidents are caused this way either by someone failing to pay proper attention to the road or someone who doesn’t care about cutting other people off. Either way, you are likely to receive a traffic citation, points on your license, a fine or an array of other penalties.
Tailgating is another way to be deemed at fault for a rear end accident. If you are traveling too close to the vehicle in front of you and that vehicle has to push on their breaks, usually there is no time or space for you to avoid slamming into the rear of their vehicle. So many people are in such a rush that they think by tailgating someone, they will move out of their way. In fact, if you’re being tailgated, studies shows that makes the vehicle in front drive even slower to try to teach the tailgater a lesson. The safest thing you can do when you’re behind the wheel is leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you so that if breaks are applied in a quick manner, you have plenty of time and space to slow down too. If you cause an accident while tailgating someone, you will definitely be found at fault for the accident and will more than likely be issued a citation for careless driving. You can try to fight this ticket in court but you will probably lose based on those circumstances. If you are the one being tailgated and you slam on your breaks for no reason at all, you too could be held liable for the accident if the other vehicle hits you. Although this doesn’t seem fair, if you’re being tailgated, you should always continue driving the speed limit and wait for that vehicle to pass you.
If you’ve been found to be at fault for a rear end accident and your insurance company is being sued by the person you hit, your insurance company will assign an attorney to defend you if an actual lawsuit is being filed. If a lawsuit is not filed, your insurance company will try to resolve the claim with the other party or their attorney without your involvement. You will not be involved or consulted by your insurance company at that stage. If you are served with a complaint notifying you the person you injured is suing you and your insurance company, your insurance company will be in touch with you and advise you on how to move forward. An attorney will be assigned to defend you and the insurance company’s rights. A lawsuit can be a very stressful thing to go through so always remember to pay attention to your surroundings on the road and the vehicles in front or around you so you don’t cause an accident.