According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone in the United States is injured in a car accident every 10 seconds. The NHTSA also estimates that around 33 percent of the car accidents that occurred during 2012 were initiated by a rear-end collision. In most car wrecks, the driver in the rear is typically at fault. However, there are exceptions to the rule depending on the specific circumstances of the collision.
Rear-end collisions often occur due to poor road conditions, adverse weather, distracted driving or tailgating. Sometimes these accidents occur because the driver in front stops short or “brake checks” suddenly without warning. Rear-end collisions often occur from the front car rapidly decelerating when entering an intersection or attempting to avoid an accident. The injuries that drivers typically suffer from in the types of wrecks often include whiplash or herniation. Some vehicles are designed with a crumple-zone in order to reduce the risk of these types of injuries occurring in a rear-end crash.
Insurance and police usually fault the driver in the rear for not leaving an adequate amount of stopping distance between the vehicles traveling on the road. The main reason the driver in the rear is at fault in a rear-end collision is because motorists are expected to adhere to the assured clear distance ahead rule in order to avoid a rear-end wreck. When the driver in the rear applies the brakes, but is still unable to avoid the vehicle in-front, or one around a sharp corner, the motorist in the rear is in violation of the assured clear distance ahead rule.
One of the exceptions to this ruling occurs if the front vehicle is in reverse-gear when the accidents happens. If the driver in the front mistakenly accelerates their vehicle in reverse and collides with the vehicle in the rear, the following driver can most likely be cleared of fault. Other exceptions to this rule occur when a motorists merges lanes or cuts in-front of another vehicle without sustaining a sufficient rate of speed.
The driver in the rear may not be at fault when a vehicle cuts in front of another motorist without leaving sufficient space to slowdown or brake. As long as the rear driver was not speeding or violating any traffic laws, they may be able to be cleared of any fault in the collision. Drivers in the rear can usually be cleared of fault anytime another car, pedestrian or object enters their rightful lane unexpectedly. Drivers in front who fail to properly use traffic signals or violate traffic laws may be at-fault if they end up causing a rear-end collision.
Drivers who may be victims of an insurance scam can also be cleared of fault in a rear-end collision if the investigation bears enough solid evidence. In the “swoop and squat” scam, unsavory motorists box-in an unsuspecting driver in an attempt to intentionally cause a rear-end collision. People employ this scam in order to collect an insurance claim based on fraud or exaggerated injuries. It can be difficult for drivers to prove that two other motorists conspired to commit this con. Even with proof of the scam, courts may still base their verdict on whether or not the driver has enough stopping distance to avoid the collision.
In order to determine who is fault in a rear-end collision, police, lawyers and insurance companies typically investigate a number of factors leading up to the accident. Investigators often consider the position and speed of each car. They will also collect any available photographs, video footage, witness accounts and police reports surrounding the accident. Authorities will also consider any traffic laws that either party may have violated before the incident occurred. Physical evidence such as skid marks on the road may also play a factor in determining who is at fault in a rear-end wreck.