If you’ve been in a rear-end accident, the fault may seem pretty clear—the driver in back hit the driver in front. It may not be so simple, however. Determining fault in any accident is a complex process, and rear-end accidents are no different. Understanding how fault is determined in a rear-end accident can help you protect yourself during your claim.
Neglect & Car Accidents
When determining fault in an accident, one thing that will be considered is a driver’s “negligence.” A driver is considered to be negligent if their actions are not what a reasonable person would do or avoid doing in the same circumstances which lead to the accident. All drivers on the road owe other drivers a duty of care to behave in a responsible manner and exercise reasonable care while driving. This duty of care will be the first thing you need to prove in an accident claim.
The second thing you will need to prove is that this duty of care was breached by the other driver. There are a number of ways this can occur, but simply put, breaching one’s duty of care to other drivers and causing an accident will mean the breaching driver is negligent. As a negligent driver, it is likely the driver will be considered to be the at-fault party.
Drivers can breach their duty in many ways, such as:
- Failing to pay attention to the road ahead of them and look for hazards.
- Failing to stop within a reasonable time.
- Failing to drive at a safe and reasonable speed, based on the road conditions.
- Failing to maintain control of their vehicle.
- Failing to properly yield the right of way.
- Failing to properly use their turn signals.
- Failing to leave a safe distance between the car ahead of them.
The final thing you will need to prove is that the other driver’s breach of duty directly caused your accident. It can be pretty clear that a driver who was following too closely and hit the back of your car was negligent and caused the accident. It can be more difficult to prove that the driver who failed to signal their lane change and was consequently hit by another car was at fault.
Establishing Fault in Rear-End Accidents
Even if you couldn’t do much more to prevent the accident, it is likely that you will be considered at least partially at-fault for the accident if you rear-ended the leading car. It is generally held that you should allow enough space between yourself and the car in front of you so you can react to them stopping suddenly without causing a collision.
The driver of the lead car may be considered partially responsible in some instances as well. Some of these situations include:
- The lead driver reverses suddenly or rolls backward.
- The lead driver stops suddenly to turn and fails to complete the turn.
- The lead car’s taillights are not working properly.
- The lead driver needs to pull over but fails to pull over completely and turn on their hazard lights.
In the above examples, it is likely that the lead driver would be found to be negligent. The legal implications of this negligence may depend on how much their negligence contributed to the accident, however, depends on how your state handles accidents where more than one party is at fault.
Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that it is still possible to recover some compensation, even if you are partially at fault for the accident. You may not recover compensation if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, and the amount of compensation you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault you are assigned. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault, you can recover up to 70% of the compensation amount you would otherwise be owed.
Why Does Comparative Negligence Matter?
Because Florida considered the actions of both drivers when assigning fault, it can greatly affect the outcome of your case if it is determined you share some of the blame. For those who have been injured due to someone else’s actions, this can be frustrating, since it can deny you some of the compensation you deserve. However, it also can protect you, especially if your car is the one that struck the other vehicle. The lead driver can be the one who caused the accident, even if they didn’t hit the vehicle behind them. Comparative negligence allows fault to be assigned more fairly.
Have You Been Involved in a Rear-End Accident? Get Help Now – (727) 308-6060
Rear-end accidents often are complex, and it is possible that you may be entitled to compensation, even if it appears you are at fault. An experienced Clearwater car accident attorney, Bryan Caulfield can help you protect yourself in an accident claim. Don’t wait to get help with your case. Schedule a free case evaluation to learn how we can help.
Contact our offices by calling (727) 308-6060 and asking for Bryan.