When a “following” driver might not be to blame in a rear-end collision

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

When a rear-end accident occurs, most people assume that the following driver was the one responsible for the collision. However, this isn’t always the case; sometimes, the actions of the driver ahead might have triggered the collision.

In the aftermath of such a car accident, the following driver can feel stressed and confused, wondering how they can prove that they’re not at fault. This can be an especially complex undertaking if the accident caused both drivers devastating injuries that might require significant medical bills. Is it possible to prove that the driver ahead was the reckless one?

The burden of following distance

One way to prove that the following driver caused the rear-end accident is if they were following the driver ahead too closely. According to traffic laws, drivers are required to maintain a safe following distance to minimize the possibility of ramming into the vehicle ahead.

But what if the following driver wasn’t tailgating the driver ahead? What if they only rammed into the vehicle ahead because the driver stepped on the brakes abruptly without warning? Perhaps the driver slams on their brakes out of anger. In such cases, a collision might be unavoidable even with a safe following distance. Here, the fault could shift to the driver who stopped abruptly, especially if they didn’t have functional brake lights or didn’t use their turn signals.

When reckless driving contributes

Another instance when the driver ahead could be responsible for a rear-end collision is if their reckless driving behavior contributed to the accident. For example, if they cut off the following driver during a dangerous lane change, the resulting rear-end accident would be their fault.

Furthermore, if the driver ahead was impaired at the time of the accident, their erratic driving probably triggered the accident. They might have reversed unexpectedly or were erratically adjusting their speed in a busy lane.

Motorists who get involved in rear-end collisions don’t have to accept blame simply because they were the following drivers. If another’s unreasonable actions triggered an accident, a following driver might be eligible for compensation. Evidence like witness statements and dashcam footage can strengthen a following driver’s case.

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