December 10, 2014
Am I Always at Fault in a Rear-end Collision?
A rear-end collision occurs when the front of one vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. The rule of thumb regarding fault in rear-end collisions is generally that the person driving the back vehicle is to blame. However, this is not the case in every scenario and many rear-end collisions are caused for other reasons. Therefore, if you were driving the rear car in a rear-end collision, you may still be able to recover for your injuries, property damage, and other losses. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you identify the true party at fault and whether you can hold them liable for the accident.
The front driver may be at fault
In many instances, a rear-end collision happens because the driver in front suddenly braked. Generally, the rear driver should be following at a safe enough distance to stop in time, however, at high speeds, suddenly slamming on your brakes can be negligent behavior. Additionally, if the front driver had burned-out brake lights, the rear driver would have no indication that the front driver was slowing down or stopping. In such situations, the front driver may be held liable.
Road hazards may have caused the accident
If you are driving and suddenly hit a large pothole or crack in the pavement, you can easily lose control and collide with the car in front of you. In this case, whatever party was responsible for the maintenance of that road—usually the local municipality—should be held liable for any resulting losses.
Your vehicle was defective
Some rear-end collisions are caused because your brakes suddenly failed or your tire suddenly blew out. If the brakes or tires were defective, the manufacturer of the vehicle should be held responsible for negligently producing a defective and potentially dangerous product.
You were both at fault
At times, both you and the driver in front of you may have contributed to the accident. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law allows you to recover even if you are partially responsible for the accident. The court will determine your percentage of fault and will simply subtract that from your recovery. It may still be possible to recover a substantial portion of your losses.