If You Rear End Someone is It Always Your Fault?
Rear end collisions are one of the most common types of traffic accidents. There are many reasons why the car in front of you can slow down or stop suddenly – and all it takes is hitting the brakes a moment too late to find yourself in a rear end collision. This is an experience shared by many Americans on the road. In fact rear-end collisions are one of the common types of traffic accidents in the United States. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reported that rear end crashes made up 32.5% of all traffic accidents. Out of the total, 33% caused property damage only, 31% caused injuries, and 7% were fatal.
Even though rear end collisions are common, it is important not to assume that as the rear driver is always at fault – especially since Nevada is an at-fault state when it comes to traffic accidents. What does that mean for rear drivers involved in a rear end collision?
Why is a Rear End Collision Usually Assumed to Be the Rear Driver’s Fault?
The reality of rear end collisions is that statistically, the rear driver is at fault in the majority of crashes. In the most common scenario, the lead vehicle has come to a complete stop, and the rear driver collides with it for one of the following reasons:
When is a Rear End Collision the Lead Driver’s Fault?
A lead driver can be the cause of a rear end collision, or part of the cause – meaning the rear driver can be only partly at fault. Some of the maneuvers that lead to a lead driver causing a rear end collision are:
- changing lanes without enough warning
- cutting off the rear driver without signaling and enough space
- braking accidentally
- reversing by mistake
- driving with defective brakes, broken brake lights of tail lights
- not using hazard lights if the car has stalled
- stopping abruptly
- Failure to move the car out of the road within a reasonable time
How Is Fault Determined in a Rear End Collision in Nevada?
Nevada is an at-fault state when it comes to traffic accidents, which means the person who caused the accident due to their negligence is responsible for the other party’s damages. In at-fault states, a system called comparative negligence apportions the responsibility for damages according to a percentage that a driver is found to be at fault. As an example, a driver who changed lanes without signaling could be rear ended by a driver who was speeding. In a trial, the lead driver could be found to be 60% at fault and the rear driver to be 40% at fault. In this case, because the rear driver was less than 50% at fault, they would possibly be able to recover damages, though their award would be reduced by the percentage they were at fault.
Determining who is at fault can be complicated, which is why it is best to rely on a legal team to help with gathering evidence, such as:
- reports from eyewitnesses
- smart phone recordings or dashboard cameras
- police reports made at the scene of the accident
- closed circuit television recordings
- expert witness testimony in reconstructing accidents based on skid marks and debris left at the scene of the accident
- types of injuries suffered as a result of the accident based on medical records or testimony from medical professionals
What if Third Parties are Involved in a Rear End Collision?
In some cases, more than two parties share the fault in causing a rear end collision. In some situations this is due to bad weather, which means fault cannot be assigned unless the driver was not making appropriate adjustments to their driving to compensate. In other cases, more than two vehicles can be involved in the cause of the crash due to the same poor driving decisions mentioned earlier, and may all share in the fault. Some third parties are not other drivers at all. For example, an accident caused by mechanical defects could be the fault of the vehicle’s manufacturer. If the cause was badly maintained roads, it could be caused by negligence from the local transport authority.
What If I am Injured in a Rear End Collision?
People injured in a rear end collision due to another party’s negligence may be eligible for compensation. There are a number of injuries common to rear end collisions, including soft-tissue damage, fractures, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Treatment for these injuries can incur large medical bills, loss of income from missed work, and pain and suffering.
Since Nevada is an at-fault state, the comparative negligence law means that as long as the victim was found to be less than 50% at fault, they can still be eligible for compensation for damages.
It is important that if injured in a rear end collision in Nevada, the injured party should seek medical attention as soon as possible. There is a statute of limitations on filing a personal injury lawsuit of two years from the date of the injury. Therefore, keeping careful records of medical treatments, prescriptions, lost days of work, and the progress of recovery of injuries is essential. It is always best to talk to a lawyer about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Nevada after a rear end collision.
Why Should I Contact a Lawyer When Involved in a Rear End Collision?
Proving fault in a rear end collision can be complicated, especially when there are multiple causal factors, or more than two parties involved. But why risk penalties for an accident that is not your fault, or only partly your fault? This is where an experienced and aggressive legal team comes in. Our expert team will pursue your case to ensure the best possible results. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.