Who is at Fault for a Rear-End Accident?

A car accident can occur for numerous reasons. While most of us are trained to think that a rear-end collision automatically faults the driver at the rear, this is not always the case. As a victim of an accident, it is important to understand how the courts determine fault and negligence, and to ensure that you have a valid claim against a driver for rear-ending you or your rear-ending them.

Legal Representation for Victims of Rear-End Collisions in the Indianapolis Region

The driver of the car that strikes the leading vehicle is typically considered partially at-fault or negligent in some way. Even if the driver ahead of them caused the accident, the fact that they rear-ended the other vehicle means that they were following too loosely.

Every driver has a legal duty to follow leading drivers at a safe distance so that they can avoid an accident. This means that you are required to keep enough distance between your and the other vehicles in front of you to avoid a collision – and anticipate the risk for a collision.

It is possible that the leading vehicle is also at-fault and negligent. In these cases, several things may occur, such as:

  • The leading vehicle reversed suddenly.
  • The leading vehicle stopped suddenly and didn’t execute the turn indicated.
  • The leading vehicle’s brake lights are non-functional.
  • The leading vehicle has a flat tire, but did not pull over or turn on their hazard lights to indicate an emergency.

Contributory Negligence and Rear-End Collisions

The state of Indiana employs the contributory negligence principle. This means that the plaintiff can be partially at-fault for the accident, but still collect compensation for the portion that the defendant is at-fault for. However, the recovery is barred if the plaintiff’s contribution was more than the defendant’s, under statute 34-51-2-5.

Proving Your Case

If you think that the leading vehicle was at-fault for the accident, you may still have a personal injury case against the driver. You would need to prove with a preponderance of evidence that they were the reason why the accident occurred. For example, the leading vehicle reversed into your car. While you technically rear-ended that vehicle, it backed into you; therefore, that driver is negligent.

You would need to establish your case using the same four principles of all negligence-based claims:

  1. Show that the defendant owed you a duty of care.
  2. Establish how the defendant breached that duty.
  3. Prove that failure to perform properly is what led to your injury.
  4. Establish the damages you suffered because of the breach.

Speak with a Car Accident Attorney First

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, realize that the defendant will attempt to increase your contribution toward the accident to reduce settlement value. This is why you must speak with a car accident attorney as soon as possible to preserve evidence, but also increase the likelihood that your claim will succeed.

Contact the accident team at Jacobs Law, LLC to explore your options. We offer free, no-obligation consultations.