We’ve often heard or been told that if the vehicle in front of you stops abruptly and you rear-end it, you will automatically be charged with “failure to keep your vehicle under control.” In many cases, the person who stopped abruptly and caused the accident is not issued a citation, though sometimes there could be grounds for carelessness on their part, such as broken or burned out tail or brake lights, or failure to move their vehicle off the road due to mechanical failure. In such cases, a rear end accident attorney could file a ‘comparative negligence’ claim on your behalf, in which the plaintiff’s compensation could be reduced.
While we often think of rear-end accidents as a type of fender-bender where no one is seriously injured, the fact is, rear-end accidents contribute towards a large number of injuries and fatalities every year, along with loss of personal property. The law directs that we should leave at least 10 feet for every 10 mph of speed between our vehicle and the one we’re following to allow for ample time to slow down or stop to avoid an accident. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this rule of thumb. There are other factors that contribute to rear-end collisions, such as:
- Weather: Rain, snow, ice, and other debris on roadways can create hazardous conditions for braking, especially if travelling to fast. It’s easy to slide into the back of another vehicle if you cannot slow down or stop in time.
- Phone and texting: This has become an increasing issue, especially with younger drivers, who are not paying attention to the road and what is coming up ahead.
- Speeding: Many rear-end collisions occur when someone is driving too fast and cannot or does not slow down or stop to avoid a crash.
If you find yourself in a rear-end collision, there are steps you can take at the scene to help ensure your rights, providing you are not injured and are emotionally stable for the task. Following is a short list that you can keep in your glove compartment as a guide if need be:
- Do not leave the scene unless you are seriously injured or impaired.
- Contact police and/or 911 immediately.
- Try to access the situation for potential risk of fire from gas leakage, etc., and any dangers from traffic around you.
- Check to see if other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians may have been injured. Do not move anyone unless there is risk of further injury.
- Use your camera phone and take pictures from different angles of the damage to both vehicles involved. It’s also a good idea to include street signs, stop lights or signs, and any other physical data that can prove location of vehicles at time of collision.
- Speak to anyone who witnessed the accident and get their contact information and a statement from them if possible. This can be helpful if they leave before the police arrive, or if you need them to testify later.
Determining who is at actual fault in a rear-end accident is sometimes as simple as accessing the rear damage on the lead vehicle against the front-end damage on the following car. Still, there are situations where it is not that cut and dry. If you were involved in a rear-end accident and suffered injury or property loss, or were charged at fault but wish to impugn the evidence, please contact us to review your case.