Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end collisions are very common. They occur due to a number of circumstances:

  • distracted driving, including using a mobile device, applying makeup, drinking, or eating, or looking at a map;
  • driver fatigue;
  • inclement weather conditions, including wet or slippery roads, rain, or snow;
  • speeding;
  • drunk driving; or
  • aggressive driving, including tailgating, road rage, etc.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, rear-end collisions accounted for 27.8% of all “collisions with a motor vehicle in transport.” Further, NHTSA reports that 6.8% of all fatalities, 26.2% of all personal injuries, and 28.7% of only property damages (where just the motor vehicle sustained damages) were due to rear-end collisions.2

Injuries Due to a Rear-End Collision

Rear-end collisions can lead to injuries ranging from minor to severe, including death. People involved in rear-end collisions can sustain the following injuries.

  • seatbelt, airbag, steering wheel contusions or abrasions;
  • concussion and/or whiplash;
  • back, neck, shoulder strains or sprains;
  • broken bones;
  • internal injuries to organs;
  • spinal injuries, including potential paralysis; and/or
  • death

In addition, your vehicle may sustain minor damage or damage so severe that your vehicle is considered totaled.

When such injuries occur, you may be entitled to compensation under Nevada law. How much you are entitled to depends on who’s at fault in a rear-end collision. To determine who is responsible and how much compensation to which you may be entitled, you should engage an auto accident attorney, such as those at Shook & Stone, to assist you.

Who’s at Fault in a Rear-End Collision

You may be wondering who’s at fault in a rear-end collision. This is a question many people ask. Generally, the presumption is that the driver in the rear is at fault in a rear-end collision. It is based on the general principle – and Nevada state law – that the rear driver should be driving a safe distance from the car in front of them to be able to avoid colliding even if the front driver does something unexpected. Nevada law states that “The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” (See NRS 484B.127 Following too closely. Effective January 1, 2023). However, there are some instances where it is the front driver or another who’s at fault in a rear-end collision.

When is the Front Driver the Person Who’s at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

In determining who’s at fault in a rear-end collision, it is not always cut and dry. It may be presumed to be the rear driver; however, the driver in the front, if driving negligently or recklessly, may be at fault. Such instances where a front driver may be fully or partially at fault includes when the front driver:

  • stops suddenly, including purposely braking hard;
  • reverses into the rear driver;
  • pulls out in front of another car without signaling or leaving enough room;
  • is driving drunk; or
  • is driving without properly working brake lights

With respect to a front driver stopping suddenly, the rear driver still has the responsibility to have been driving at a safe enough distance to avoid hitting the front vehicle. However, if the front driver was distracted, stops, or brakes suddenly on purpose (also known as a “brake check”), or does not have working brake lights, then the front driver may be partially or fully at fault for the rear-end collision.

When are Others at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

There may be other circumstances where someone other than the front or rear driver is partially or fully at fault for a rear-end collision. This includes rear-end collisions due to:

  • road construction;
  • debris in the road; or
  • a negligent pedestrian or third-party driver

A rear-end collision may be caused by road construction that has obstructed views or improper barriers, or there may be other negligent factors. In these instances, the construction company (or even a government entity that hired the construction company to do the roadwork) may be partially or fully responsible.

If debris in the road from items falling off of trucks or vehicles causes a rear-end collision, then the owner of the truck or vehicle from which the items fell may be partially or fully at fault for a rear-end collision. This is especially true if the accident is due to a failure to properly secure such items.

Another example of a third-party possibly having some fault in a rear-end collision is if a third-party’s negligence caused the accident. For instance, a pedestrian may run into the roadway, or a third-party driver may be driving negligently, which may force the front driver to stop short. In this case, the pedestrian or third-party driver may be held partially responsible for causing the rear driver to collide with the front driver.

Who’s at Fault in a Multiple Vehicle Rear-End Collision?

In the case of a multiple vehicle pileup, fault may be attributed to one party or multiple parties depending on the circumstances. A common example is a three-car accident, where the rear-most vehicle hits the middle vehicle into the front vehicle. In that case, the rear-most vehicle is presumed at fault, especially if the driver of the middle vehicle was not negligent in any way. However, hiring an auto accident attorney to delve into the facts of the accident would be beneficial to determine all the parties that may be a fault.

How to Prove Negligence and Who’s at Fault in a Rear-End Collision

In order to determine the negligence of the various parties involved in a rear-end collision, fact gathering must occur. The circumstances surrounding the accident could be discovered through:

  • eyewitnesses;
  • traffic cameras or security cameras in the surrounding area;
  • police reports; and
  • photos of the accident scene, including those of the vehicles involved in the accident.

All of this evidence to prove who’s at fault in a rear-end collision is important to collect as soon as practical, especially eyewitness testimony. Most likely, the police report will have the most contemporaneous eyewitness statements. However, having an attorney on your side to gather this information would help you collect any compensation owed to you for any injuries sustained in a rear-end collision.

How Can Shook & Stone Help You File a Claim in a Rear-End Collision

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, you may need an auto accident attorney, such as Shook & Stone, to help you understand who is at fault and to obtain any compensation to which you are entitled. We have experienced attorneys who can help you file any claims against negligent parties in a rear-end collision.

Such claims may be against the other drivers or third parties and their insurance companies. Further, if you were involved in a rear-end collision while working, you may be entitled to make a claim against your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance policy.

Call us at Shook & Stone at 702-570-0000 for a free consultation to find out what you are entitled to if you have been involved in a rear-end collision. We are here to help you!