In a rear-end collision, the rear driver is not always at fault for the accident. Liability in a rear-end collision is not automatic, and the front driver may be at fault. If the lead driver was negligent or operated the vehicle recklessly, they may be liable for the accident. The person responsible for the collision is liable to the other driver and other parties who may have suffered injuries. If you suffer damages in a rear-end collision, you must identify the party at fault to be able to seek compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you establish fault and guide you on how to seek compensation.

The Party at Fault in Rear-end Collision

In most rear-end collisions, the rear driver is at fault for the collision. However, the lead driver or another party may also be to blame for the accident. Determining the party responsible for the accident is essential because it helps determine liability. The liable party must pay the injured persons’ damages. A driver is negligent under Florida law if they fail to exercise care while driving and violate traffic laws. Some of the ways in which a driver can be negligent, thus liable for a rear-end collision include:

  • Texting while driving

  • Engaging in distracted driving, mainly operating the phone or listening to music on headphones while driving.

  • Tailgating

  • Speeding

The injured parties, commonly known as plaintiffs, can seek compensation from the liable parties by filing a personal injury claim.

Is Fault Automatic

While the rear driver is often at fault, the fault is not always automatic. The rear driver may be at fault if they drive too closely or engage in distracted driving. Another party, including pedestrians, other vehicles, or poor road conditions, may cause the accident. While determining fault, the focus is on negligence. For you to recover damages, you must prove that the other party was negligent. You must prove the three crucial elements of negligence:

  • The defendant must have owed the victim a duty of care.

  • You must prove that the defendant breached or failed to honor their duty of care.

  • It must be evident that the defendant’s negligence contributed to or was a significant cause of the victim’s injuries.

Whenever a driver is on the road, they have a responsibility to exercise care. The use of reasonable care while driving entails looking out for other vehicles and pedestrians. A driver has to control the speed and the movement of their vehicle.

Lead Driver’s Liability

If the lead driver fails to use reasonable care while driving, he/she might be liable for the accident. Below are some of the instances when the lead driver may be liable for an accident:

  • Pulling out in front of another vehicle

  • Breaking instantly suddenly

  • Reversing into the vehicle behind

  • Engaging in a road rage

  • Trying to be hit intentionally.

  • Engaging in drunk driving

  • Driving with faulty brake lights

When the Lead Driver Brakes Suddenly

A common cause of rear-end collision is when the lead driver brakes instantly, making the rear driver hit the vehicle from behind. If the lead driver brakes suddenly, the rear driver is often quick to accuse the lead driver of causing the accident. However, even in such a case, the rear driver may be liable for the accident. According to Florida law, the driver behind should leave ample space between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them. The rear driver should not follow the lead driver too closely.

While leaving space between them and the lead vehicle, a driver should consider the front driver’s speed and the road conditions. There is no defined safe distance between two vehicles. The safe distance will depend on the unique circumstances at the time of driving. Drivers should adjust space between vehicles depending on the circumstances. Ample space is critical:

  • While driving at night

  • Driving in wet road conditions

  • Operating a heavier weight vehicle

  • Loose gravel on the road

  • Soft brakes

Other than following the lead vehicle too closely, the rear driver may be liable for distracted driving. Even if the lead driver brakes suddenly, the rear driver may be to blame if they were not paying attention to the road, which made them hit the lead vehicle. If the rear driver is absent-minded or distracted, they may realize too late that the vehicle ahead of them has stopped or braked suddenly.

Sudden Braking and Distracted Driving

The leading cause of distracted driving is mobile phone use while driving. Distracted driving does not just revolve around the use of mobile phones while driving. A driver engages in distracted driving if they do anything that takes their attention from driving. Anything that makes a driver unaware of their surroundings is a distraction. Some of the common distractions on the road include:

  • Operating the radio

  • Mapping directions

  • Looking at the map

  • Shaving or applying makeup while driving

  • Eating while driving, reading the newspaper, lighting a cigarette, adjusting the steering wheel or the seat while driving.

The rear driver would be liable if they followed too closely or were not paying attention while driving. The front driver will be liable if:

  • They drove a vehicle with broken brake lights.

  • They slammed or stopped on the brakes intentionally so that they could be hit and commit insurance fraud.

  • They were engaged in road range and thus stopped on the brakes recklessly.

When a Driver Pulls In front Suddenly and the Vehicle Behind Hits Them

It can be complicated if a driver suddenly pulls in front of another vehicle and are hit. Both the driver who pulls in front and the one who hits them may be liable for the accident. The liability will vary depending on the unique facts of the case. When determining liability, some of the conditions that matter include:

  • Road conditions

  • Vehicle speed

  • Traffic signals

  • Lane markings

  • Failure to signal while making lane changes, among other factors

The rear driver may be liable for the accident if they are not driving safely or paying attention. If a driver pulls into moving traffic without signaling, they will be liable even if they are rear-ended.

When a Rear-end Accident Results from Improper Left turns or U-turns

A rear-end accident could also occur due to improper left turns, U-turns, or failing to yield right of way. Turning left in front of oncoming traffic could lead to a rear-end accident. A rear-end accident might also occur when a driver makes an illegal U-turn. A driver should yield a right of way to all vehicles from the opposite direction, failure to which may cause a rear-end accident.

When making a U-turn, a driver must ensure that they can make the U-turn with reasonable care. A driver will be liable if they make a U-turn when the on-coming vehicles are too close. If a driver makes a left turn without yielding to the on-coming vehicles and a rear-end collision occurs, they will be liable for the accident. This means that the driver who makes the illegal turn will have to compensate the injured parties for their injuries and damages.

When a Rear-end Collision Involves Multiple Vehicles

In some cases, a rear-end collision may involve multiple vehicles, usually known as a chain reaction. In the case of a chain reaction, the rear vehicle hits the lead vehicle, which hits the vehicle in front of it. In many rear-end collisions involving multiple vehicles, the vehicles that initially got into the accident are often to blame for the accident. However, multiple drivers may also be liable for the accident. In some multiple rear-end collisions, none of the drivers who started the accident is liable. A rear-end collision involving many vehicles may occur due to:

  • Another careless driver

  • Vehicle manufacturer in the case of faulty brakes

  • Poor road conditions

  • Pedestrian or cyclist

  • A wild dog running into the street

When many or several vehicles are involved in a rear-end accident, the fault is not always clear. The parties involved in the accidents will have a different story regarding what happened in the accident. The issue of negligence and liability in a rear-end collision involving many vehicles is complicated and often has to be decided by the jury.

When You are Partly Liable in a Rear-end Collision

What should you do if you are involved in a rear-end collision, and you are partly to blame for the accident? You can still file a lawsuit and recover damages even if you are partly to blame for the accident. Fault can be apportioned depending on the degree of fault. Therefore, if you are 30% to blame for the rear-end collision, your compensation will be reduced by this percentage. Therefore, you will receive 70% compensation.

When an Uninsured Driver rear-ends you

What should you do if you are hit or rear-ended by a driver who is not insured? If another driver is at fault for the accident but has no automobile insurance, the uninsured or the underinsured coverage comes in.

Commonly abbreviated as UMC/UIM, underinsured motorist insurance coverage comes in when the other driver has no insurance or their insurance policy does not provide enough cover for their damages. The uninsured or the underinsured policy is not mandatory for drivers though insurance companies are supposed to offer this cover. Every driver in Florida has to obtain the minimum insurance coverage policy. It is an offense to operate a motor vehicle without insurance.

You may be involved in an accident with an insured driver. However, the driver’s insurance policy may not be enough to compensate you if you suffer extensive damages. You can make your claim under the UMC/UIM policy to seek compensation. The UIM/UMC insurance will help you claim damages over and above the other driver’s insurance coverage. However, if you do not have UMC/UIM insurance, you will be limited regarding the extent of damages you can recover. You can file a claim against the at-fault driver with the help of your attorney. However, filing a lawsuit against the liable driver may not be beneficial if the driver does not have enough financial assets to compensate you.

The Role of an Attorney in Proving Liability

When you are involved in an accident, the liable party might not be willing to take responsibility for the accident, especially in a chain accident. You need an aggressive personal injury attorney who can examine the accident facts and identify the liable party. An attorney will ensure that you receive compensation for your damages. Without an attorney, the other parties might implicate you and make it appear like you are liable for the accident.

The Available Damages

After proving liability, the liable party should compensate you for the damages suffered in the rear-end accident. If you are partly liable for the accident, you will receive compensation less your degree of fault. Some of the damages that you can recover in a rear-end motorcycle accident include:

  • Vehicle Repair Costs — When your vehicle is damaged in a rear-end collision, you should seek compensation for all the costs incurred in repairing the vehicle.

  • Medical expenses — This includes all the costs you incur while seeking treatment for rear-end collision injuries.

  • Pain and suffering

  • Emotional distress

  • Lost wages — This is the compensation for the income lost during the time you spend away from work because of your injuries.

  • Loss of earning capacity — This is the compensation for your inability to earn income in the future.

  • Loss of consortium — If your loved one succumbs to the injuries suffered in the rear-end collision, you can file a claim to seek compensation for loss of consortium or companionship.

When a Loved One Dies in a Rear-end Collision

If your loved one dies in a rear-end collision, the surviving dependents can file a lawsuit against the liable party and seek compensation for the damages. The parties that qualify to file a lawsuit to seek compensation include:

  • The spouse to the deceased

  • The deceased’s children

  • The parents of the deceased

  • The grandchildren of the deceased

Find a Jacksonville Car Accident Lawyer Near Me

If you or your loved one is involved in a rear-end accident, the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can help. We will investigate the case, identify the liable party, and help you seek compensation. Contact us at 904-800-7557 and speak to one of our attorneys.