In accidents in which one car rear-ends another, most people would guess the driver who rear-ended the other is at fault. This is not always true though. There are some special situations in which both drivers could be held liable. Depending on the circumstances, the driver in the rear might be able to take legal action against the driver in the front. If you were the rear-ending driver in an accident, here is what you need to know:
When Is the Front Driver Responsible?
In some situations, the front driver could be liable for the damages that the rear driver suffers. To prove that the front driver is liable, you must show that the front driver had a responsibility to drive safely and that he or she failed to do so. If you can prove these things, you could potentially file a claim with his or her insurance company.
For instance, if the driver failed to make a turn after he or she signaled the intent to do so and then stopped suddenly, you could argue that his or her actions caused you to rear-end the car.
It is important to note that you could be held partially responsible for the accident. Every state has laws about how close a car can follow another. If you were too close to the other car, the driver of the vehicle could argue that you breached your duty to follow at a safe distance. If the insurance company agrees, your settlement could be reduced. In some states, your claim could be denied altogether.
When Is the Claim Denied?
In some states, contributory negligence is the law. Contributory negligence simply means that you contributed to the accident and are not entitled to receive any compensation from the other driver for your injuries and damage. This is the law in only a few states, so check your state's laws to determine if you can act against the other driver.
In other states, comparative negligence is used. The insurance company or court will determine how much of the responsibility for the accident is yours and use that to determine a settlement amount.
For instance, if your damages are $5,000, but you are found to be 20 percent responsible for the accident, your settlement will be reduced by the 20 percent. Instead of receiving $5,000, you would receive $4,000.
Before accepting that you are at-fault in a rear-end accident, consult with an attorney. He or she can help decide if you legally can hold the front driver responsible. Click here for more info on choosing an attorney near you.