Rear-End Car Accident – Who’s at Fault?

Accident Attorney Serving Victims of Rear-End Collisions in Hudson County and Union City, NJ

In all states, drivers must act reasonably and carefully so as not to cause harm to fellow drivers and passengers on the road. You, as a driver, must be aware of what is going around you – particularly of what is in front of you. As part of this overall responsibility to be a good driver, New Jersey law also specifically mandates that you maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Why? So that you have enough space and time to safely stop if the car in front of you stops or slows down. Almost always, a rear-end collision indicates a failure to follow that straightforward rule of the road.

Basically, if you rear-end the car in front of you, there is an extremely strong chance that you did not maintain a safe distance behind it; if you had, you wouldn’t have crashed.

Clear Liability . . . Almost Always

It should come as no surprise that, in almost all accidents involving rear-end collisions, the driver in the rear is the one at fault. And, the vehicle damage and position of the vehicles after the accident generally are sufficient evidence to determine just how the accident occurred. If the front end of one vehicle is damaged and the back end of the other vehicle is damaged, it is pretty clear who hit whom, and which driver caused the accident.

However, there are a very limited number of exceptions to the general rule of thumb that the driver who did the rear-ending is at fault and thus responsible for 100 percent of the resulting damages. These exceptions are as follows:

  • If the driver in front suddenly and forcefully slams on the brakes – for absolutely no reason – while driving; and
  • If there is a line of vehicles stopped in traffic or at a traffic signal, and another driver rear-ends the last vehicle in the line (pushing all vehicles into the front vehicle.) In that situation, both the front vehicle and all of the middle vehicles may have a case against the offending rear-ender.

Establishing Fault

In order to officially assign fault, the accident should be investigated as soon as possible. Typically, the responding officers conduct an investigation and record the results in a police report. The report will state the officer’s findings regarding liability and whether the driver of the rear vehicle did not maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front.

Examining the police report, the testimony of the injured driver, and other witness statements, the injured driver must prove the following elements in order to establish liability on the part of the rear-ending driver (i.e., the defendant) and thus a claim for personal injuries:

  • The defendant was negligent,
  • The defendant’s negligence caused the rear-end collision, and
  • The rear-end car collision caused the injured driver’s injuries.

If it is established that the defendant’s negligence caused the rear-end collision, he or she is 100 percent liable for the injured driver’s damages. If the driver in front was somehow partially at fault for the accident, he or she will not be entitled to recover the total amount of damages.

If you were involved in a rear-end collision where you were either the front or rear driver, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you deal with the aftermath and any resulting lawsuit. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C., we are prepared to offer the assistance that you need. Contact us today to get started.