According to the National Transportation Safety Board, in 2012, there were over 1.7 million rear-end automobile accidents in the United States. Of these 1.7 million accidents, there were over 1,700 deaths and more than 500,000 injuries. Most states adhere to a rule known as the Assured Clear Distance Ahead Rule. This rule basically states that the driver in the rear must leave an adequate distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them so they have enough room to stop in the event the vehicle in front of them makes a sudden stop. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the rear driver is always at fault when an accident occurs.
When the Front Driver May Be at Fault
While it is true that the majority of rear-end car crashes are the fault of the rear driver, this is not always the case. If the front driver had brake lights that were burned out, the rear driver may likely not be aware that the front driver was reducing their speed or stopping. In this case, the front driver may be the one at fault.
When Multiple Drivers May Be at Fault
There may be an instance when the vehicle behind you hits the back of your car, due to the fact that they were hit from behind by another driver. This is called a chain reaction and is normally the fault of the rear driver. The majority of states use what is known as comparative negligence rules to determine who exactly is at fault. The rule is designed to allocate the fault of the collision between the drivers involved.
When Road Hazards or Vehicle Defects May Be at Fault
There are times when there may not actually be a driver at fault in the crash, but some other circumstance like road hazards or vehicle defects. For instance, if you are the rear driver and unexpectedly hit a pothole in the road, causing you to hit the car in front of you, you may not be at fault. In fact, in this case, the fault would lie on whoever is responsible for maintaining that road, normally the local municipality. Also, if you are the rear driver and suddenly your brakes fail, the manufacturer of the brakes on your vehicle would likely be held responsible.
Being involved in any type of motor vehicle accident is a nightmare all in itself, but being involved in a rear-end collision is definitely unsettling. If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, it is important that you seek out the assistance of a qualified and experienced attorney. They will be able to assist you with determining the facts and analyze who is at fault.