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Who Is at Fault for Rear-End Accidents?

At RMD Law, we get many questions about car accidents. But one thing we have heard over the years still surprises us because it is so wrong—the driver who rear-ends another car is always at fault for the accident.

The truth is more complicated than that. Although it is true that the person who rear ends another car is often to blame, it is not always true. Instead, you will need to carefully analyze the circumstances surrounding the crash. In some situation, the lead car that got struck could be responsible for the accident.

Rear-end accidents are fairly common. According to one estimate, about 1.7 million happen in the U.S. every year. If you have been injured, read on for more information about how to determine fault.

Did the Lead Car Cut Someone Off?

This is a common situation. For example, you might be driving on the freeway when a car tries to merge with traffic by squeezing into a space that is too small. As a result, you might not have enough time to slow your car to avoid crashing into the merging vehicle.

At other times, a vehicle will try to scoot ahead of you before you reach an intersection. In this case, you probably lack sufficient time to stop your vehicle before striking it.

These are complicated cases, but an insurance adjuster will look at a variety of factors, such as how fast the vehicles were traveling and how much room was available.

Did a Car Fail to Yield?

All vehicles must obey traffic laws, but sometimes a vehicle will fail to yield when it should. In this situation, the vehicle that failed to yield is probably to blame.

For example, you might have been driving down the road when someone pulls out of their driveway although you have the right of way. It is very easy to suddenly drive straight into the fender. In this case, the driver who was struck probably is to blame for the accident, so they cannot get compensation from the car that hit them.

Did a Car Stop Short?

Cars often stop short because a driver is frustrated about being tail-gated. The driver gives in to their desire to teach the tailgating car a lesson and hits the brakes to stop early. As a result, the driver who was tailgating ends up rear-ending them.

Who is to blame in this situation? Well, it is not always clear. For one thing, a driver who is tailgating has been negligent, so they might not get off free. Instead, the jury might decide that both drivers are responsible for the crash.

On the other hand, sometimes a driver has a legitimate reason for stopping short. For example, they might stop to avoid hitting an animal or a pedestrian. Ideally, the driver will pump their brakes to signal that they are about to stop but sometimes there is not enough time.

Did a Driver Not Use a Turn Signal?

Turn signals tell the vehicles behind you that you intend to turn and will probably be slowing down your car. A driver who does not use a turn signal can’t blame the trail car for rear-ending them.

Speak to an Orange County Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to review the circumstances and decide whether you have a claim. Contact RMD Law today. One of our lawyers can meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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