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Can the Driver in Front Be at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

Posted on in Car Accidents

Waukegan Motor Vehicle AttorneyIn a rear-end collision, the driver in back is generally the one at fault; it is presumed that the driver in back should be positioned to react in time if the driver in front makes a quick stop. However, while this is relatively rare, there are times when the driver in back can make a valid argument that they were not at fault for rear-ending the car in front of them.

Here are some situations when a rear-end collision may not be entirely the fault of the driver in back:

  • Multi-car pile-up. Each car that, under its own power, rear-ends another car is generally responsible for that specific collision. However, a car that pushes multiple cars into one another can be held responsible for the entire pile-up. For example, suppose driver 1 and 2 both stopped in time, but then driver 3 comes along and smashes into driver 2, propelling driver 2 into driver 1. Driver 2 was not responsible for rear-ending driver 1 because he had no control over that collision. Driver 3 is responsible for damages to both driver 1 and driver 2.

  • Sudden and unexpected reversing. If the driver in front suddenly shifts into reverse, slamming into the car behind them, the driver in front is responsible. This can happen in a crowded parking lot where a driver decides to reverse to an open spot, not noticing that another car was approaching. This could also happen at a stop light when a driver realizes they are sticking out too far into the intersection or are blocking a driveway, so the driver decides to back up so as not to block traffic.

  • Failure to complete a turn. Imagine an intersection where several cars are lined up to make a left turn. The driver in front signals that they are going to make the turn, and then suddenly stops in the middle of the turn, perhaps realizing that they were turning onto the wrong street. The driver in back who rear-ends the driver in front can make an argument that the driver in front was at least partially at fault.

  • Broken lights. If the brake lights of the driver in front are broken, the driver in back does not receive the expected warning that they, too, should brake. The driver in back should, of course, be paying attention to their speed and following distance, but the other driver’s failure to properly maintain their vehicle can be used to argue contributory negligence.

Consult an Elite Waukegan Car Accident Lawyer

Rear-end collisions can cause substantial injuries, including whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries. To ensure that you receive all due compensation for injuries you suffered in a car accident, call a knowledgeable Lake County car accident attorney. Contact Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. at 847-662-3303 for a free consultation.

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