Personal Injury Blog

If You Rear End Someone, Is it Always Your Fault?

March 12, 2020 By Cerussi and Gunn P.C. Legal Team

Rear-end collisions are some of the most common road accidents in New Jersey. Stop-and-go traffic, tailgating and distracted drivers can lead to one driver colliding with the rear of another driver’s vehicle. It is a common misconception that the rear driver is always at fault for rear-end collisions. While this is often the case, it is possible for the leading driver to take part or all of the fault for a rear-end collision depending on the circumstances. If you were in this type of accident, do not assume or admit fault before a more thorough investigation, and contact a Monmouth County car accident lawyer to assess your options.

When Is it the Following Driver’s Fault?

A rear-end vehicle collision could be your fault as the rear driver if another driver in your position reasonably would have noticed the stopped vehicle and braked on time to prevent an accident. If, for example, you were looking at something other than the road when the car in front of you stopped and you did not hit your brakes fast enough, you could be liable for the rear-end collision. Another reasonable and prudent driver most likely would have watched the road and stopped on time. The collision could be your fault as the rear driver if you were guilty of any act of negligence or recklessness that caused the crash.

  • Distracted driving
  • Texting and driving
  • Reading while driving
  • Personal grooming
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Aggressive driving
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Breaking roadway rules
  • Failing to stop within a reasonable time
  • Failing to maintain your vehicle’s brakes
  • Losing control of the vehicle
  • Drunk driving

You could be liable for a rear-end car accident if you broke any rule, law or best practice that caused or substantially contributed to the collision. If an investigation does determine you to be at fault, the other driver could file a lawsuit against you if he or she has serious enough injuries. Otherwise, New Jersey’s no-fault laws will give the injured driver no choice but to seek compensation through his or her own insurance provider, regardless of fault.

When Is it the Leading Driver’s Fault?

As the rear driver, a rear-end collision might not be your fault if no reasonable driver would have been able to avoid the crash based on the circumstances. The leading driver could be guilty of many things that could ultimately cause or contribute to you colliding with the back of his or her vehicle. Further inspection of the crash scene, vehicle damages and other types of evidence could point to the other driver’s fault for committing an act of negligence.

  • Taillights or brake lights that are not working
  • Slamming on the brakes/brake-checking
  • Cutting off the rear driver
  • Merging on top of a driver
  • Failing to see a vehicle in the blind spot
  • Failing to use a turn signal to merge
  • Ignoring the right-of-way
  • Reversing the vehicle suddenly
  • Getting a flat tire but not pulling over
  • Crashing into the vehicle in front of him or her

Rear-ending someone is not always your fault. Protect your rights and the potential option to hold the leading driver responsible for the collision by not admitting fault. Do not admit or accept fault from the other driver, police officers or insurance company agents after the crash. Remain polite, but deny fault until a professional has investigated further. Proof of the other driver’s fault could give you multiple options for recovery instead of only a first-party claim.

How to Recover After a Rear-End Car Accident

If you did cause the rear-end collision, a first-party claim with your insurance provider will most likely be your only option for financial recovery. If an investigator finds proof of the other driver’s fault, however, you may be eligible for a third-party claim against his or her insurance company. New Jersey’s no-fault laws only allow you to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party if your injuries are disabling, disfiguring, debilitating or permanent. If the crash did cause a serious enough injury and the other party was at fault, you could file a civil claim against that driver to recover compensation for your damages. Contact our Monmouth County personal injury attorneys to get started.