Unfortunately, following a motor vehicle accident, it is not always clear who caused the crash or who is at fault for the damages and losses that resulted—even the motorists involved in the collision are not always sure. This is especially true in crashes that occur when a vehicle suddenly pulls out in front of another driver.
That is why, to help resolve some of the misunderstandings surrounding these types of collisions, we have prepared the following blog post. In it, our auto accident lawyers will delve into what these types of accidents entail, who causes these crashes, and why you must establish liability following a motor vehicle accident.
Table of Contents
- What Is Involved in a Rear-End Collision?
- How Do These Rear-End Accidents Occur?
- What Did You Do Just Before the Crash?
- Additional Factors in a Rear End Accident
- Factors Impacting Liability When a Motorist Pulls Out in Front of Another Car and Gets Hit
- Why Determining Liability Matters in a Rear-End Accident?
- The Steps You Should Take After a Rear-End Accident to Prove Liability
- What Happens if the Insurers Decide You Were Negligent?
- Following a Rear-End Accident, Go After the Damages You Deserve
What Is Involved in a Rear-End Collision?
A rear-end crash usually occurs when a motor vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it. Although these accidents can happen for several reasons, including road defects, poor weather conditions, intoxication, and inattention, these rear-end crashes are the most frequently occurring type of car crash in the country. In fact, almost 29 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are rear-end collisions, and each year they cause substantial injuries and fatalities.
How Do These Rear-End Accidents Occur?
A rear-end collision results when a driver hits the car directly in front of them from behind.
These accidents usually happen at stop signs, red lights, or in congested traffic and often involve two vehicles. For instance, they tend to occur when:
- A motor vehicle is driving at a high speed and crashes into a driver that was completely stopped.
- A motorist is traveling faster than the car in front of them, and the vehicles collide when they are in motion.
- A motorist pulls out in front of another vehicle, and a crash occurs.
What Did You Do Just Before the Crash?
When you tell your liability insurer that someone pulled out in front of you, they investigate the accident anyway. They realize that the other driver might tell a different story. To protect your legal rights, they must decide the proximate cause or causes of the accident. This is the idea that the accident occurred because of specific factors.
Your insurer determines fault based on your actions when the other driver pulled out in front of you. They need to know if you took evasive action or even noticed the other driver before your cars collided. You might share liability for the consequences if you committed a negligent act.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s most recent statistics show speed is a factor in 11,258 traffic fatalities. When you are speeding, you do not always see danger ahead. If you anticipate a crash, you cannot always stop quickly enough to avoid it. If you crash into another vehicle or object, your speed increases the force of the impact, resulting in more severe damage and injuries.
When a cell phone, passenger, or something else distracts you, it contributes to subsequent accidents. Driving distracted reduces your ability to pay attention and react to conditions around you. You might not even see the other driver pulling out until you crash into one another.
Driving While Alcohol or Drug-Impaired
You might not notice your driving deficiencies if you drank or used drugs before encountering the other driver. Alcohol and drugs have a proven track record of contributing to car accidents. Both cause driver inattention, slow movement, loss of focus, and drowsiness. Even prescription medications present a safety challenge. In the article “Some Medicines and Driving Don’t Mix,” the Food and Drug Administration explains how prescription and non-prescription drugs affect driving.
Your reaction time, focus, and other driving skills diminish when you do not have enough sleep. The NHTSA estimated that 91,000 accidents nationwide involved drowsy drivers during a recent reporting year. They believe local law enforcement agencies underreport drowsy driving incidents.
Additional Factors in a Rear End Accident
In many rear-end crashes, the motorist following the rear-ended car is often the one found liable for a rear-end collision. This is usually because most state traffic laws indicate that drivers must leave enough space between the vehicle in front of them so that they can make a complete stop if they need to. Yet, even though this is the general rule, there are many instances where the vehicle in front may share liability for the collision or be the one responsible for the accident.
For example, the lead driver can be at fault for a rear-end crash if the accident was caused because of their reckless or negligent driving, including:
- Hitting their brakes suddenly
- Pulling out in front of another vehicle
- Reversing into a motor vehicle
- Road rage
- Trying to hit another car intentionally
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving with broken brake lights
Factors Impacting Liability When a Motorist Pulls Out in Front of Another Car and Gets Hit
One of the more complicated types of rear-end crashes involves motorists pulling out suddenly in front of another vehicle and getting hit since both the driver who cut in front of the car and the motorist who failed to stop in time could be at fault for the accident.
What makes this situation so complex is there are often numerous factors that can impact this liability, such as:
- The speed of the vehicles
- The road conditions
- The traffic signals
- The lane markings
- Other factors, including whether the car that pulled out in front used a turn signal
Based on these factors, if the rear motorist was not driving carefully or cautiously, they may be liable for an accident if a car pulls out in front of them and they crash. On the other hand, if the leading motorist pulled into moving traffic across multiple lanes and did not signal they were switching lanes, they could be held responsible for a rear-end collision that resulted when they pulled out in front of another driver.
As you can see, when it comes to determining liability in a rear-end accident, these crashes tend to be very case-specific. For these reasons, if a motor vehicle pulled out in front of you and it resulted in a collision, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. These attorneys can go over your accident, investigate what happened, and help you figure out who was at fault for your crash and whether you may be entitled to money for the injuries you sustained.
Why Determining Liability Matters in a Rear-End Accident?
If you have been hurt in a car collision because of another individual’s intentional, negligent, or wrongful actions, you may be able to collect damages for the harm you sustained. That is why resolving fault in a rear-end accident is so important as it can determine who is liable to pay for the other motorist’s damages, including:
Economic Damages: These damages often refer to the actual losses that result from an accident, such as
- Past, current, and future medical expenses, including doctor visits, hospital stay, surgeries, prescription medications, and emergency services
- Lost earning capacity
- Personal property repairs
- Lost wages
- At-home nursing care
- Replacement services such as child care services, grocery shopping services, and even cleaning services
- Rehabilitative services, including occupational and physical therapy
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic Damages: These types of damages are often more challenging to evaluate since they refer to personal losses that occur from the accident, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
Punitive Damages: In certain cases, a victim of an accident may receive punitive damages. However, unlike the other damages, which compensate the victim for their losses, punitive damages punish the wrongdoer for their egregious actions and deter others from committing the act in the future. Yet, to obtain these damages, a victim’s lawyer usually needs to prove with clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with severe misconduct or gross negligence.
The Steps You Should Take After a Rear-End Accident to Prove Liability
Establishing liability following an accident where another motorist pulled out in front of you is not easy and often requires relevant and detailed evidence. That is why, following this type of car collision, you need to take action. The steps you take after this car crash can not only help ensure you stay safe but can also help protect your legal rights. For these reasons, following your motor vehicle collision, you should consider the following:
Call 911 Immediately After the Rear-End Accident
After any motor vehicle accident, you should contact 911 immediately. This is the fastest way to alert the authorities, such as medical crews, that you or someone at the scene needs medical help and to get your accident on record.
Once the authorities arrive, they can investigate the crash and write down their findings in their police report. If you decide to bring a legal claim following your accident, this report can provide you with important details regarding the car crash, including who was at fault for the collision.
Take Photos and Videos of the Car Accident Scene
If the area appears secure and you do not need any immediate medical help, try to collect as much evidence as possible from the crash. This evidence should include photos and videos of the cars involved in the crash, their placement on the street, your visible injuries, the damages to the vehicles, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, traffic signs and signals near the crash scene, skid marks on the road, any road deficiencies, and any other evidence that can help show what transpired and who may have been liable for the crash.
Exchange Information With Those Involved in the Crash
Make sure you exchange details with the other motorists involved in the crash, including their first and last names, insurance information, contact information, and license numbers.
Look for Witnesses
In addition, if there were individuals present at the scene, who saw the crash, try to get their information as well. Their first-hand accounts can provide you with helpful details regarding the collision, including who was at fault, which can help back up your claim.
Get Checked Over by a Health Care Professional After Your Accident
Even if you believe your injuries are not that serious, you still need to head to your doctor following your motor vehicle accident. It is common for serious injuries such as head and brain trauma to take some time before they manifest. However, the longer you wait to get this condition treated, the more fatal it can become. For these reasons, no matter how your injuries look, you should get examined as soon as possible following your rear-end accident.
In addition, getting this prompt treatment can be beneficial to your legal claim. Insurance companies are often looking for a reason to pay you less than you deserve or deny your claim altogether. By not getting medical treatment immediately after your accident, they can argue that your injuries are not that significant or that they result from a separate event. Thankfully, when your physician checks you over, they can jot down information regarding your injuries in their medical report—providing you with evidence of a direct connection between the rear-end accident and the injuries you endured.
Do Not Make Any Definitive Statements About the Accident
If you were in an accident because another car pulled in front of you, details of the accident will be heavily scrutinized, including what you say after the crash. That is why you want to avoid making any definitive statements about the accident, apologizing for anything that occurred, or taking the blame for anything that happened. These reflections and comments can come back later and hurt your case, impacting the amount of compensation you can receive.
What Happens if the Insurers Decide You Were Negligent?
Your insurer owes you based on your policy coverages. Even if you were speeding, drowsy, or committing other negligent acts, they must pay you anyway. They might also pay a percentage of the other driver’s damages, even if he pulled out in front of you.
If you make a liability claim against the other person’s insurer, they may pay a reduced amount based on your liability percentage. They might also deny liability and refuse to pay you anything.
Following a Rear-End Accident, Go After the Damages You Deserve
Following a motor vehicle accident, to have a successful legal claim, you need to have reliable and detailed evidence showing fault and damages and strong legal arguments proving your case. Yet, following a rear-end crash, where the driver pulls out in front of you, not only is this the last thing on your mind, but it is often very challenging to obtain this type of relevant evidence and create these specific arguments.
However, when you work with a knowledgeable car accident attorney, you will not have to take on this difficult ordeal on your own. With a skilled lawyer on your side, you can get the legal assistance you need to take on these claims and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.
Once retained, these lawyers can:
- Go over the rear-end accident with you in detail, figure out what happened, determine if you have a viable claim, and discuss the legal options you can pursue.
- Answer any questions and concerns you have about the accident.
- Investigate the rear-end accident thoroughly and secure the evidence required to show what happened and who was responsible for the crash.
- Obtain experts that can help substantiate your claim and prove liability, including engineers and accident reconstructionists.
- Ensure that your legal motions are appropriately prepared and filed before the statute of limitations expires.
- Handle all the negotiations with the other side, including the insurer, and fight for a fair settlement on your behalf.
- Take your case to trial if the other side does not want to negotiate and go after the maximum damages you need.
If you or a loved one have been harmed in an automobile accident because another driver pulled out in front of you, do not wait any longer to get the legal help you need. Contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney today for a free case review, and let these lawyers show you how they can pursue the financial recovery you need.