Who is Liable in a Rear-End Accident?

No one wants to get into a vehicle accident. However, accidents typically occur without warning and when a person is at least expecting it. One of the most common types of accidents that occurs regularly in and around our area are rear-end collisions. Most people assume that these are relatively minor incidents, but the reality is that rear-end collisions can cause significant injuries and property damage. If you or a loved one have been injured in a rear-end collision, it is incredibly important to determine liability with the help of a Seattle car accident lawyer. While it may seem clear that the rear vehicle is at fault, that is not always easy to prove, nor is it always the case.

Who is liable in a rear-end collision?

In most rear-end collision cases, liability will indeed fall onto the rear driver. The reasoning behind this is simple – all drivers are expected to leave enough distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them to ensure that they will have enough time to react appropriately to avoid a collision should the vehicles in front of them slam on their brakes or encounter another type of dangerous situation.

When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a rear-end collision, chances are they are going to issue a citation to the rear driver for following too closely.

However, the rear driver is not always going to be the person at fault in these instances. It could be the case that the lead driver or another vehicle involved contributed to or caused the collision. For example, a lead driver could swerve into another lane because they are intoxicated. If the rapid lane change did not leave enough time for the real driver to react, then fault for the incident may fall onto the intoxicated driver.

How is fault determined in a rear-end collision?

When working to determine fault for a rear-end collision, there will be various factors taken into consideration. Importantly, evidence needs to be gathered, even if liability seems to be clear at the time the collision occurs. In these cases, the following evidence will be used by insurance carriers or attorneys to help determine fault:

  • The police report
  • Statements from eyewitnesses to the crash
  • Photos taken in the aftermath of the incident
  • Video surveillance from nearby buildings
  • Dashcam footage if any vehicles involved were equipped with cameras
  • Vehicle “black box” data

Rear-end accidents have various causes. When working to determine liability, it is often determined that these incidents were caused by drivers:

  • Texting while operating the vehicle
  • Being distracted by others inside the vehicle
  • Operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating

Unfortunately, rear-end collisions can lead to severe injuries for drivers and passengers. One of the most common types of injuries the victims in these cases sustain is whiplash. This injury can affect the soft tissues in the back and neck when they are stretched or torn due to the rapid back and forth movement caused by the rear-end collision. Some of the other types of injuries commonly sustained in these incidents include spinal cord trauma, concussions, more severe brain injuries, nerve damage, injuries from the airbag deploying, internal organ damage, or internal bleeding.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a rear-end collision, you should speak to an attorney about your case as soon as possible. A Seattle rear-end collision attorney will have the resources necessary to determine liability and help you secure maximum compensation for your claim.