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John Bruscato Sept. 11, 2020

Rear-end collisions account for roughly one-third of all car accidents. And yet, despite how common these collisions are, there is much confusion about how fault is determined. 

Whether it was a minor fender bender in a parking lot or an absent-minded motorist behind you on your daily commute, there's a good chance you've been involved in a rear-end collision yourself at some point. 

One of the questions I get asked most by clients is, "is the rear driver automatically at fault in a rear-end accident? Can the lead driver ever take the fault?" 

Great questions — Many of us instinctually accept that the rear driver is always at fault… but is that true? Does the rear driver always take the blame in a rear-end collision?

The answer is: it depends. 

It is generally assumed that the rear driver is at fault in a collision, but that may not be true in every situation. The reality is, the front driver or multiple parties can be held accountable for rear-end collision fault. 

In this article, I will explain why rear-end collision fault is not always cut and dry. I'll also explain how fault is determined, what common damages are included in rear-end accidents, and what you might expect from a rear-end collision settlement. 

If you've been in a rear-end accident, read on to learn more and contact a car accident attorney in Monroe to discover if you're eligible for rightful compensation for your damages and injuries.

What are the most common causes of rear-end collision car accidents?

As you can imagine, rear-end accidents result from not respecting a safe following distance between cars. 

Abrupt lane changes, failing to follow the speed limit, or not yielding the right of way on the road are a few possible causes of rear-end accidents.

Here are a few more common culprits in rear-end accident cases:

  • Failing to maintain a safe distance

  • Tailgating or following too closely

  • Distracted driving (e.g. talking on the phone, texting, using devices)

  • Fatigue or drowsiness

  • Speeding

  • A tire blow-out (flat tire) in the front vehicle

A typical scenario is when you're following the car ahead of you a little too close to brake in time when the front driver slows down or comes to a halt (at a red light, say). 

Or, perhaps the car in front's brake lights or hazard lights are faulty, and you rear-end their vehicle because it was difficult to tell they were slowing down.

In most cases I see, the rear-driver is at fault because they simply weren't paying attention or respecting a safe following distance. But just because the rear driver is at fault most of the time does not mean they are automatically at fault every time. 

How is fault determined in a rear-end collision? 

More often than not, the vehicle that rear-ends another car assumes liability for the accident. This should come as no surprise. After all, Louisiana state traffic laws require that drivers must respect a safe following distance between other cars on the road. A rear-end collision necessarily breaches this safety requirement. 

That said, this is not always the case. There are some situations where the front driver will assume fault for the rear-end accident. 

Here are a few common scenarios:

  • The front driver suddenly reverses into the rear vehicle

  • The front driver's brake lights are malfunctioning, failing to signal other cars

  • The front driver gets a flat tire and doesn't signal, pull over, or turn on hazard lights

Ultimately, the fault is determined by the driver's negligence that caused the collision to happen in the first place.

Determining fault is important because it allows us to assess liability and determine whether negligence was partially or fully responsible.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

In an auto accident, a driver's negligence refers to the failure to drive with care or violate local traffic laws and regulations. 

The state of Louisiana subscribes to a pure "comparative negligence" system (civil code 2323). This means, when more than one driver is at fault, comparative negligence will allocate fault between both vehicles' drivers. 

Furthermore, when a negligent driver has contributed to their own injury or accident, their recovery compensation will be reduced based on liability percentage.

For example, let's say the court awarded the plaintiff a sum of $50,000 in damages compensation but found that the driver was 20 percent responsible for the rear-end collision. In this example, the plaintiff would receive $40,000 in compensation.

As you can see, multiple drivers can assume fault in a rear-end accident. When that happens, each liable party is responsible for paying a set amount of damages assigned by a court of law.

What damages are included in a rear-end collision lawsuit?

If you were the victim of a rear-end collision — and we can prove the other driver's negligence — we can hold them liable. By documenting proof of your accident-related expenses and losses, we can demand damages for your case. 

Compensation for your rear-ending damages may include:

  • Medical bills

  • Lost wages and earnings

  • Vehicle repair costs

  • Pain and suffering

  • Loss of consortium

Most rear-end accidents can be settled out of court by filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. If the insurer denies your claim, further action may be necessary. 

If necessary, we can escalate your case and file a personal injury lawsuit in court to fight for fair compensation. 

Should I get a car accident attorney after a rear-end car accident if it wasn't my fault?

Yes — If you were involved in a rear-end collision, then I insist that you seek professional help from a personal injury attorney. 

If you have suffered a minor rear-end accident, you can attempt to file a claim yourself, but I would not recommend it. Having an experienced lawyer on your side will make the process of determining fault and negotiating with the insurance company much easier and more effective for you. In any auto accident, it is in your best interest to work with someone who will aggressively fight for your case and hold the negligent driver responsible for any damages they caused to you or your property. 

Call Bruscato Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your rear-end auto accident 

John Bruscato is a skilled Monroe, LA personal injury lawyer specializing in car accidents and workers' compensation. If you've been injured in a rear-end accident, contact our legal team today for a no-obligation, free case evaluation.