Police motorcycle at the scene of an accident
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Rear-End Accidents, Liability, & You

The NHTSA recorded over 33 thousand fatal auto accidents in the US in 2018. Excluding fatal accidents, there are a few million accidents that occur each year, and amongst the most common are rear-end collisions. You may have never experienced being in a rear-end collision but chances are quite high that you know someone who has.

A rear-end collision is when the front of a vehicle impacts the rear bumper of another vehicle.  Not all rear-end collisions are created equal – they all have varying degrees of severity. Some of these collisions can be a simple scuff mark on one’s bumper all the way up to a devastating accident scene.

These accidents can be caused by a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons for rear-end collision include distracted, impaired, or aggressive driving. But they can also happen due to weather conditions such as fog or a bad snowstorm.

Today we cover the most common laws surrounding rear-end collisions along with educating you on the circumstances that may benefit you in the case of a collision.

What Are the Most Common Laws in the United States Surrounding Rear-end Accidents?

Highway traffic congestion

Photo credit: Orange County Register

Car accidents may seem very straightforward, but in some states, there are fewer laws surrounding the insurance required to be carried by motorists – this makes for a headache in the case you get into a collision.

Most states in the US use what is called an “at-fault” system. This system implies the insurance of the at-fault driver covers paying for the damages the accident has caused to the not-at-fault parties. This is a great system as it prevents drivers from needing to pay a deductible when not at fault.

Florida is an example of a state that uses a “no-fault” system for auto accident claims. All motorists are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury coverage. This insurance covers medical bills and lost wages in case time off of work is required, no matter who is at fault for the accident. This requires each motorist to seek compensation from their own insurance company first.

Who is Generally Found at Fault in a Rear-end Accident?

Tesla SUV in a rear end collision

Photo credit: Tesla Motor Club

In a rear-end collision there is a “lead car” or front car and a rear car. In most cases, the rear car is generally found at fault. This is because the rear car can control the trailing distance behind the lead car, and this gives them enough time to stop with short notice and without hitting the lead car.

If a driver behind a lead car is distracted, they are more likely to cause a rear-end collision should the lead car brake suddenly. Distracted driving can come in many forms but ultimately can lead to one result – a collision.

A great way to prove who is truly responsible for a rear-end collision is to have a dashcam that captures both front and rear angles. These can be found on Amazon or places like Best Buy.

The result of a rear-end collision can be as small as a dented bumper all the way up to a complete vehicle write-off. Aside from obvious damage to the vehicles involved, they can also harm and even kill the occupants of those involved. No matter who is at fault, it is always a terrible scenario to be in.

What circumstances might change the convention?

The rear driver in a rear-end collision isn’t always found at fault. There are some specific situations where the lead car is found at fault.

We connected with an automotive accident law firm, Schultz & Myers, to get some clarity on some of the reasons where a lead car would be found at fault in the case of a rear-end collision: reversing into the rear car; driving while intoxicated; driving with broken taillights, or brake checking/ intentionally trying to get rear-ended. Though these situations are rare, they are also tough to prove – another reason to get a dashcam.

We’ve all been driving down the road and had a car cut in front of us, nearly missing them. This is another case where a lead car would be found to be at fault in the case of a collision. As you can see in this video, this is a textbook example of where the lead car would be at fault.

If a car dodges into a lane not giving any notice, it will usually result in a rear-end collision. This is another example of the lead car being found at fault. This common situation can be tough to prove who is at fault without video footage – again, pick up a dashcam.