Who Is at Fault in a Rear-End Accident?

Thousands of people commute through North Carolina daily, thinking they will safely arrive at their destinations. Unfortunately, it only takes a few seconds for a driver to rear-end your vehicle. Rear-end car accidents are usually less dangerous than other types of accidents. Fender-bender accidents can cause injuries that result in ongoing pain and expensive medical bills. 

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in rear-end accidents, but it can also be excruciating and difficult to treat. If you have been in a rear-end accident caused by the vehicle behind you driving into your car, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you will need to prove that the other driver was at-fault to recover compensation. The vehicle that ran into your car is likely liable for your damages. 

Determining Liability in a Rear-End Accident

Determining who is liable in a rear-end accident depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Typically, the vehicle at the rear of the accident is responsible for the crash. This is not always the case, though. In some instances, the driver is responsible for the car accident in front of the accident. Suppose the front driver is waiting at a red light. The back driver is texting and collides with the vehicle in front. In this case, the rear driver would be liable for the collision. However, if the front driver contributed to the accident by having broken tail lights and blinkers, they may be unable to recover compensation. 

North Carolina's Contributory Negligence Rule

North Carolina is one of only five states that follows the contributory negligence rule. The contributory negligence rule bars plaintiffs from recovering compensation after an accident if they were at fault, even to a small degree. In a rear-end accident, if the front driver is found to be 1% or more at fault for the accident, they will not be able to recover compensation. Many drivers assume that they will automatically be entitled to compensation as long as they are the driver in front of a rear-end accident. Due to the contributory negligence rule, it is essential that you work with an experienced attorney who can help you gather evidence that the driver behind you is 100% at fault for the rear-end accident.

When is the Driver in the Rear Not at Fault?

As mentioned above, the driver in the rear is almost always at fault in a rear-end accident, but this is not always the case. We will discuss some of the exceptions to the general rule. The most common scenarios in which the rear driver is not at fault for a rear-end collision include the following:

  • Failure to yield: When one driver has the right of way, and the other driver fails to yield to them and instead pulls out in front without leaving enough distance, they can be considered at fault in a rear-end collision. 
  • Stopping short: When a driver sees another driver is following them too closely or tailgating them, they may be inclined to stop suddenly as a way to punish the other driver or threaten them. The front driver may not maintain their speed, tap on their brakes, or slam on the brakes to try to stop another driver from tailgating them. If a rear-end collision results from this Behavior, the driver in front could be the one who is liable for the damages.
  • Other conditions: There are several other scenarios where neither driver could be at fault for a rear-end collision. Suppose a large pothole caused a rear-end collision. The driver in the back runs into the car in front. In this case, neither driver may be at fault for the accident. Instead, a government entity responsible for maintaining the roads and keeping them safe could be to blame for the vehicle. In another situation, the rear vehicle's brakes could be defective and fail to work so that they could not stop the vehicle. If the rear vehicle collides with the front car, both drivers may hold the manufacturer of the defective brakes accountable.
Contact a Charlotte Attorney Today

If you or your loved one have been injured in a rear-end car accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule your free initial evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for your rights.

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