It’s true that in the case of rear-end collision accidents, the driver in the back is most often found at fault for causing the crash. However, it’s a very common misconception that no matter how the accident happens, the rear driver is always at fault. There are plenty of scenarios in which the front driver may be found liable for a rear-end collision. So it’s important to know your rights and options in the case of rear-end collision—whether you were the front driver or the back driver.

Q: What is a rear-end collision accident? 

Rear-end car accidents are one of the most common types of car accidents. They happen when the front bumper of one vehicle somehow collides with the rear end of another vehicle. Most commonly, they occur when the car in the back position of the lane collides with the next car immediately in front of it, but this is not the only scenario in which these accidents can occur.

Q: How does a rear-end car accident happen? 

Like many other types of accidents, rear-end collisions can be caused by various factors. They could be the result of distracted driving, reckless or aloof driving, traveling too fast, being intoxicated, or things like adverse weather or road defects causing the driver to misjudge their maneuvers or lose control of the vehicle.

Q: Who can be involved in a rear-end collision?

Though you may often hear of these somewhat common “fender benders” happening between two cars at a stop light or some similar scenario, rear-end collisions can happen with any type of vehicle on the road. They can happen between cars, trucks, vans, semi-trucks, and tractor-trailers. In the case of an accident with a semi-truck in particular, the resulting damage has the potential to become much more serious than just some “fender bender.”

Q: What kind of damage and injury can be caused by a rear-end accident?

When the front of one car collides with the back of another, the damage most often occurs primarily to the front end of the first car and the back end of the second car. But there are many factors that can change the amount of damage done during a rear-end collision, such as the speed at which the vehicles are traveling or the size and trajectory of the vehicles involved. For example, if a semi-truck rear-ends a sedan in front of it going at a high speed, the sedan could become completely totaled from the impact.

Injuries resulting from rear-end accidents can range from mild, such as minor whiplash, back and shoulder injuries, and lacerations, to more serious injuries, including severe whiplash that can lead to spinal or neck injuries, brain, or broken bones. Again, it all depends on how the accident occurred and the vehicles involved.

Q: When is the rear driver most often at fault?

More often than not, the rear driver involved in the accident will be held responsible because most rear-end collisions are caused by that driver tailing or following too closely behind the car in front of it. Universal road rules and laws require that drivers follow the vehicles in front of them at a safe distance, and when drivers break this rule, rear-end collisions occur. Even in the event of an abrupt stop by the car in front of it, the rear car should be in a position to brake without there being a collision. So if the rear driver is found to have not been traveling at a safe distance to the car in front of it, that driver will most often be found at fault for the accident.

The same can be said for a rear driver who is not paying close enough attention to the road or their driving. Even if they’ve been following the car in front of them at a safe distance, if they remove their attention from the road and fail to notice that the car in front of them has stopped or slowed, and then rear-end that car, they can be held liable for the accident.

Q: When is the front driver most often at fault?

There are several scenarios in which the front driver may be held liable for causing the rear-end collision accident. The most obvious would be if the front driver put their car in reverse and backed into the rear driver. This is still considered a rear-end collision but was specifically caused by the front vehicle’s maneuver, and so they would likely be found at fault.

Other scenarios of the front driver possibly being held responsible may include if they change lanes or make a turn directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle in the lane(s) they are entering or crossing, causing the rear vehicle to collide with the back end of their car. They may also be found at fault if they have a non-functioning or broken taillight, failed to use a turn signal without the proper amount of warning time if they “brake check” the tailing driver behind them, or if they are driving while distracted or intoxicated.

There may also be circumstances where neither the front nor rear driver is found at fault. These can include when the accident happens due to conditions such as poor visibility, slippery roads, or debris in the road. Or, if the rear driver was unable to stop due to a mechanical failure, they may not be found at fault. Although, this isn’t always the case if that mechanical failure is found to be due to negligence of repairs or upkeep, as in the case of something like a semi-truck blowing a tire or losing its cargo.

Q: How do you prove fault in a rear-end collision?

Proving fault in a rear-end collision, whether you’re the front drive or the rear driver, requires showing that the other driver was negligent by failing to use reasonable care while driving. This may involve showing that the other driver was somehow distracted, speeding, or breaking traffic laws. Showing these to be true often requires evidence like eyewitness statements, traffic camera footage, or accident debris and evidence that can be analyzed to show that the other driver caused the crash.

To file a claim or a lawsuit against the other driver, you will also need to evidence that demonstrates the extent of the damages suffered due to the crash, whether they are for your physical property like your car and the contents inside it, or for any injuries suffered as a result of the crash. Evidence of injuries can be shown through items like emergency hospital and other medical bills or a record of missed work due to injuries.

Q: What kind of compensation can you collect from a rear-end collision?

As with most other car accidents or personal injury claims (if serious personal injury occurred during the accident), you can receive economic damages for the monetary losses you suffered as a result of the accident. These types of losses can include medical bills, vehicle and other property damage, lost wages, loss of consortium, and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. And the amount of compensation you might receive from the other driver’s insurance company depends on how extensive the damage, injuries, and possible long-term pain and suffering those injuries have caused you.

Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to personal injury cases. That’s why our team is here to help. With years of experience and a dedication to justice, we offer representation for those who have been injured and deserve compensation. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll an injury can take, and we’re here to fight for your rights. If you’re in need of representation, give us a call at 314-293-4222 for a free consultation. We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure you receive the justice you deserve.