In a rear end collision the rear driver will not be always found at fault for causing the accident. However, any rear end collision lawyer will explain the liability of a rear end collision is never automatic.
In some cases the front driver is liable, or even another vehicle, for the damages of the injured driver.
Circumstances, where the lead driver might be found at fault in a rear-end collision, are often related to negligence or reckless driving. These situations include:
- Backing into the rear car
- Trying to be hit intentionally
- Drunk driving
- Driving with non-functional brake lights
If found responsible for causing the accident the driver can also be liable for the damages to the other driver and passengers in a personal injury lawsuit.
1. If I am in a rear-end collision, who is at fault?
The rear driver is often found at fault in cases of a rear-end motor vehicle accident. However, the rear driver will not be automatically at fault for a rear-end collision. In some cases, the lead driver or even another vehicle may be the cause of the rear-end collision.
Determining which driver is at fault for the rear-end accident is key. As that will determine who will be liable for paying the other driver’s damages.
Liability may be proven by finding if the driver was being negligent. If so, a percentage of fault can be determined related to the driver’s negligence.
Driver negligence can be proven by a lack of driving with care, or by violating traffic laws or rules. These may include:
- Driving distracted (such as headphones)
An injured driver can receive compensation for injuries as a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. After an accident the driver and the passengers can seek compensatory damages if injured in a rear-end collision. Damages may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
- Lost wages
- Car repair costs
- Pain & suffering
- Loss of consortium damages for partner or spouse
- Wrongful death survivor damages
2. Is fault automatic for a rear end accident?
The fault is not automatic in a rear-end accident. Often the fault is of the rear driver because they may be driving distracted or following too close. However, the fault may also be on the lead driver. There are even cases where a pedestrian, road conditions, or another vehicle may have contributed to the cause of a rear-end accident.
Negligence usually determines fault in the majority of car accidents.
As such, the liability for damages and injuries from the accident falls on the negligent party. So in a rear-end collision, the liability for injuries to drivers or passengers falls on the negligent driver.
To receive compensation for damages from an injury accident, the injured victims usually must show negligence by the defendant. To prove negligence one must show the defendant:
- owed the victim a duty of care
- breached the duty of care by negligence
- showed negligence as a major factor in causing injuries or death to the victim
A driver’s basic standard of care while driving includes:
- The use of reasonable care while driving
- Being mindful of obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles
- control over the vehicle’s movement and speed
A failure to use reasonable care while driving your vehicle is negligence.
3. In a rear end collision, when is the front driver at fault?
Rear-end collisions are usually caused by a rear driver that follows too close under the road conditions, or by leaving too little room for stopping safely. That said, the lead driver may be found at fault for a rear-end collision. The lead driver may be found liable for damages if they are not using reasonable care while driving.
The lead driver may be found at fault for a rear end collision from reckless or negligent driging. These include:
- Branking suddenly
- Road rage
- Pulling out in front of a car
- Reversing into a car
- Intentionally trying to be hit
- Driving with broken brake lights
- Drunk driving
4. If a driver brakes suddenly in front of another car, who is at fault?
A lead driver braking suddenly is often a cause for rear-end collisions. In this case, the rear driver will often blame the driver of the front car. However, the driver of the rear car might still be found at fault for the collision.
Vehicle laws in Maryland require a driver to allow enough space for cars that are in front to be able to safely stop when necessary.
“the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”
What is a safe following distance changes based on several factors. These include:
- Driving at night
- Heavier vehicle
- Loose gravel
- Wet road conditions
- Soft brakes
- Stop-and-go traffic
Other than following a car too close, distracted drivers cause many rear-end accidents. The rear driver might say the lead driver suddenly braked. However, the rear driver may not have been paying enough attention when it happened. Noticing too late that the car in front stopped or slowed.
Distracted Driving and Sudden Braking
Distracted driving can be the result of anything that detracts from a driver’s attention to the road and surrounding. These include:
- Mobile phones
- Changing the radio
- Putting on makeup or shaving
- Mapping directions
- Making adjustments to steering wheel or seat
- Watching videos
- Lighting cigarette
If a rear driver is speeding, driving distracted, or not staying at a safe following distance then that driver is considered to be negligent.
Negligence can also be the case for the front driver. If they are found to be driving negligently then they can be found to be the cause of the accident, or even partially at fault. The front driver might be at fault for rear-end accidents when the driver:
- Drove with broken brake lights
- Slammed the brakes recklessly due to road rage
- Intentionally slammed the brake to get hit (insurance fraud)
5. If a driver suddenly pulls out in front of a car and gets hit, who is at fault?
Finding fault can get complicated when a driver gets hit while pulling out suddenly in front of another vehile. Both drivers can be found at fault in these cases. It will depend on the specific details of the collision. Including:
- Road conditions
- Vehicle speed
- Failure to signal
- Lane markings
- Traffic signals
- And other factors
For example, if the rear driver is not cautiously driving, like speeding, then they may be found at fault for the collision. However, if the lead driver is pulling into moving traffic and violates Maryland vehicle codes (such as crossing yellow lines), then the lead driver may be found at fault.
U-Turns, Left Turns, and Right-of-Way
Drivers that are making a u-turn illegally, or turning left ahead of oncoming traffic can also be causes for a rear-end accident.
Under “Right-of-Way” laws in Maryland the driver that intends to make a U-turn or turn left, must yield the right-of-way for all cars and vehicles coming in the opposite direction to the point that the turn can be made under reasonably safe circumstances.
The driver must be sure no oncoming traffic is close enough to be a hazard before going across traffic to make a left turn or u-turn. If the driver making a left turn does not yield to the oncoming vehicles and gets hit, then the driver making the turn may be found negligent, and thus may be liable for the damages and injuries.
6. Rear-End Collisions with Multiple Cars
It is common for rear-end collisions to involve more than two vehicles. Including “chain reaction” rear-end accidents when a car in the back hits the vehicle in front of them, which in turn hits a vehicle in front. This may continue on for several vehicles forward. In these cases of multi-vehicle collisions, the cars that were in the initial accident are usually at fault for the injuries and damage. However, it may be the case that multiple drivers are found to be liable in a multi-vehicle rear-end collision.
Occasionally the liability for the collision may be for neither driver in the rear-end accident. It could be wholly caused or partially by:
- Vehicle brake manufacturer
- Another reckless driver
- Off-leash dog running in the street
- Hazardous road conditions
- Pedestrians or cyclists
7. In a Rear-End Accident Lawsuit, What are the Damages?
In a rear-end accident the damages may include any losses or costs associated with a car accident. These compensatory damages are both non-economic and economic. Car accident compensatory damages may include:
- Emergency room treatment
- Medical bills
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
In cases where the accident also involved reckless driving (like DUI) or criminal conduct then the plaintiff might be able to claim punitive damages.
Rear-end accidents that result in death of a loved one
If a spouse or parent losses a loved one to a rear-end accident, they may be able to file a claim for wrongful death in Maryland. Spouses or domestic partners may receive compensation for damages when their loved one died due to wrongful conduct by another.
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit may include:
- burial expenses
- lost financial earnings for the victim
- compensation for loss of affection, support, and companionship
In Maryland, specific family members may recover damages with a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Domestic partners
- Anyone entitled to property by the decedent by Maryland succession laws
If I am partially to blame for the accident, can I still file a lawsuit?
Maryland is a state of Strict Contributory Negligence. This means that if you are in any way at fault for the accident you will not receive any compensation, even as low as 1% at fault.
If a rear-end accident is not my fault, do I still need a lawyer?
Often times drivers believe they are equipped to handle accident claims on their own. Or they will just let their insurance company take care of it. However, it is very important to keep in mind an insurance adjuster’s role and who they work for. Insurance companies want to save money. Thus, they will look to pay out as little money as possible.
The insurance company might try to deny a claim, or delay resolutions, hoping you will eventually just give in and accept their offered settlement.
By having an experienced rear-end accident lawyer they can anticipate the insurance company’s tricks and know how you can push back. Kurt Nachtman is a caring Maryland personal injury lawyer. We will use a team of car accident investigators and medical experts to uncover the evidence of your lawsuit. Allowing you to get the fullest compensation owed from your accident.
10. If I am rear-ended by an uninsured driver, what should I do?
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is optional insurance that will pay for the damages if the driver is at fault:
- has no auto insurance
- their insurance policy does not give enough coverage to pay for your damages
It is required that insurance companies offer these types of policies. However, it is not required for drivers to purchase them.
Under Maryland law, it is required for drivers to have a minimum level of auto insurance coverage. These liability minimums include:
- $30,000 for the injury or death of 1 person
- $60,000 for the injury or death to more than 1 person
These are just minimums to drive legally. Thus, these limits on liability might not be enough for coverage of the damages in more serious rear-end accidents. If someone is seriously hurt in an accident, that person may make a claim under an uninsured or underinsured policy that will cover any damages that are in excess of the at-fault driver’s policy coverage.
Meanwhile, if the person that is injured does not have an uninsured or underinsured policy, the damages they may recover could be limited. In that case, the injured person(s) may file a personal injury claim. However, when an at-fault driver lacks insurance, they most likely lack a lot of financial asses that could potentially cover any damages from the accident in excess of the coverage.
Bottom Line on Rear-End Accidents
If you have been involved in a rear-end collision in Maryland, or know someone who has, contact ENLawyers to discuss your case.