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Assessing Fault in Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions vary widely from minor fender vendors to high-speed crashes. In those situations, the car that hit the back of the other vehicle is often presumed at fault in rear end accidents. While this is generally true, it is not always the case—the driver who was hit may also be partially at fault.

Car Accidents and Negligence

In most car accident cases, you need to prove that the other driver involved in the accident was negligent. Generally, this means that the other driver was acting carelessly or recklessly, and those actions caused the crash. Negligence in car accidents commonly involves situations where the driver is engaging in the following activities:

  •  Failing to pay attention to those around him or her

  • Speeding or otherwise declining to follow the rules of the road

  • Failing to stop within a reasonable time

  • Failing to use turning signals

  • Following too close

  • Failing to maintain control of their vehicle

While these are certainly not the only occurrences where negligence may arise, they are generally the most common.

Negligence and Rear-End Collisions

By far the most common reason that rear-end collisions occur is that the driver was unable to stop in time for a variety of reasons. These reasons usually involve a failure to pay attention or a failure to follow at a safe distance. Even if the person ahead of you stops suddenly, you are expected to follow with enough distance between you that you can react to sudden stops without harming the vehicle in front of you.

Even though rear end collisions are likely caused by the driver who hit the other vehicle, the driver that gets rear ended may be partially negligent as well. For example, if the vehicle stops suddenly to make a turn, but does not complete the turn, he or she may be partially at fault. Other situations where negligence may be shared include:

  •  The driver reversing suddenly, without warning

  • Brake lights that do not function properly

  • The vehicle malfunctions and the driver does not pull over or turn on his or her hazard lights

Keep in mind that these situations do not necessarily completely absolve the driver who hit the other from liability. Instead, the liability is more likely to be shared.

Comparative Fault in Missouri

In Missouri, a plaintiff who is partially responsible for his or her own injuries cannot collect damages for the portion of their fault. For example, if the jury determines that you are 10% at fault, and the person who rear-ended you is 90% at fault, and your damages are $10,000, you will only be able to collect $9,000. Your 10% fault reduces your ability to receive the full amount of compensation.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a rear-end collision, you likely have legal options. Our team can help you determine what those options may be and your next steps. Contact us for more information.

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