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Traffic Accident: Rear End: Who’s at Fault?

A common misconception is that if you crash into the rear end of another car you are "always" at fault.

Is this true?

Determining who is at fault at the scene of an accident is a matter of figuring out which person was careless, negligent or disobeyed a common traffic law.

Some situations are obvious making it easy to establish who is at fault while other situations need more information to clarify if there was any negligence or thoughtless carelessness. 

Each state has a written rule book of traffic laws that each person, who passes a driver’s test, must learn, understand and know. 

Common rear end scenarios 

A typical scenario of a rear end accident is when you are stopped in traffic, either at a red light, on the freeway, stop and go traffic or at a stop sign and someone crashes into your car from behind.  That person who hit the rear end of your car is the one at fault.

Uncommon rear end scenarios 

It has been said by attorneys, who, in my opinion are only after your money, that no matter what the circumstances, the person who crashes into the rear of a car is always at fault.  This is not true. 

A typical scenario of when it is not your fault is when a car is backing up out of a parking space, driveway or is backing down the street and you come along and hit into the rear of that car, the other driver is at fault for “improper or unsafe backing”.  

Another scenario when it is not your fault for hitting some from behind is, when a car pulls out of a driveway into oncoming traffic making a right or left turn and pulls in front of you causing you to collide into the rear of him, the other car is at fault for, “merging unsafely or entering traffic from a street, private driveway or alleyway”. 

A trickier scenario, which requires proof  from a third source, is when someone slams on their breaks to avoid hitting a person, or avoid an accident, avoid hitting an animal or for no reason at all, and is hit from behind.  In this case, it could be deemed your fault for “following to close” but there could be partial fault on the other car for, “Stopping in a roadway”. 

The last scenario when it could not be your fault although requires proof from a third source, is when someone slams on their brakes in a road rage situation and causes you to hit them from behind.  If this occurs, that person, who slammed on their brakes, could be arrested for, “assault with a deadly weapon”.  


Rear end collisions are common, and in most cases the Police and insurance companies will find no fault to the person being hit from behind and deem the person who rear ended the car, at fault.  However, the fact of the matter is, there are scenarios where it is not your fault or at the least a partial fault but the burden of proof is in your hands in those situations. 

Be safe.

Article also posted on Associated Content by Scott Hallock  

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