Determining Fault In An Accident

Why The Rear Driver May Not Be Wholly Liable For A Rear-End Accident

Whenever a rear-end accident occurs, the assumption is that the rear driver must have been at fault. This is true in the majority of these cases, but there are exceptions. Here are three examples of situations in which the rear driver may not be wholly at fault for a rear-end car crash:

The Front Driver Is Negligent

As the rear driver, you will only shoulder the entire liability for the accident if the front driver did not do anything to contribute to the crash. Here are cases in which the front driver may be perceived to have contributed to the crash:

  • He or she did not have working tail lights. If the crash occurred at night, then the absence of the lights may have prevented you from noticing the car in front.
  • He or she was drunk and driving erratically, weaving in and out of traffic. This may make it impossible for you to hit his or her car from behind.
  • If he or she suddenly stops and fails to give a reasonable warning to oncoming drivers.

A Third Car Pushes Your Car Into the One front

You may also escape liability for a rear-end accident if there are other vehicles involved. For example, even if you were driving at a safe distance and reasonable speed, a third car can hit you from behind and push you into the car in front. This is especially possible if the third car is bigger and heavier than your vehicle. For example, a commercial truck can hit you and push you into the car in front of you. Depending on the circumstances, the third car may be wholly liable for the accident, or you may share the blame with the driver.

An Act Of God Makes It Impossible For You To Stop

Although it is extremely rare, there are cases where an act of God defense may reduce your liability for an accident or even shield you completely. Examples of acts of God include a sudden onset of illness or bad weather that makes it impossible for you to stop your car in time.  Note that the mere presence of inclement weather, such as snow on the road, doesn't absolve you from the responsibility of taking reasonable care to avoid accidents. The act of God must be something that you could not have foreseen and reacted to in time.

For example, the medical condition known as a syncopal episode, which involves a sudden drop in blood pressure, can make you unconscious and unable to operate a car. It is rare, but it can happen without a warning. If you can prove such a thing, then you may escape liability for the accident.

For more information, contact Altizer Law P.C. or a similar firm.