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If You Rear-End Someone, Are You Automatically At Fault?

Rear-End Car Accident Stock Photo

Determining fault in a car accident is no simple task. You may have your own side of the story, but the other driver involved likely has their own version of what happened. There are plenty of other sources of evidence to examine to determine who was at fault after a car accident happened.

One instance where determining fault is particularly challenging is when you rear-end someone. There is a presumed assumption that if you’ve rear-ended someone in a car accident, you are automatically at fault. However, that is not always exactly the case. Read on for more information about how to determine whether you were at fault after you rear-end someone in a car accident.

Negligence in Car Accidents

Determining fault in a car accident almost always includes examining whether there is evidence of negligence at the time of the accident. You or the other driver involved in an accident could be considered to have been negligent if your actions at the time of the accident didn’t meet accepted standards for how a reasonable person would have responded (or not responded) under the same circumstances.

Proving negligence starts with proving the existence of a duty at the time of the accident. There are many examples of drivers not meeting their duty to drive with care behind the wheel, such as failing to:

  • Keep watch for hazards on the road
  • Stop within a reasonable amount of time
  • Yield to the person with the right of way
  • Keep the vehicle under control
  • Stay within the speed limit, or drive at a reasonable speed for specific road conditions
  • Use proper turning signals
  • Keep a safe distance

In order to prove negligence in the actions of the other driver, you must first be able to prove that their breach of duty, from such an action or inaction as those listed above, caused the accident to happen. You also must establish that you endured harm, such as a personal injury or damages to your car, from the accident.

Establishing Fault in Car Accidents Involving Rear-Ending

Establishing fault in a rear-ending accident is tricky because all drivers are expected to follow other cars at a safe distance; you will almost always be considered at least partially negligent if you have rear-ended someone. You must be able to account for poor driving decisions or defensive driving reactions from the other drivers on the road.

However, there are some cases in which the driver who is rear-ended is also considered to be negligent in the accident. Such scenarios include when the driver in front:

  • Suddenly reverses the car
  • Stops suddenly to turn, then fails to make the turn
  • Has brake lights that are not functioning properly
  • Does not pull over or put hazards on after getting a flat tire

Get Help from a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney

The legal impact of each driver’s negligence in such car accidents will depend on how much their actions contributed to the accident. If you have been involved in a car accident, an experienced car accident attorney will be able to help you determine who was at fault. We at Harris & Graves, P.A. have been serving Columbia, South Carolina, and surrounding areas for over 25 years. Contact us, today.