Car Accident 101: Can You Be Liable If You Were Rear-Ended?
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, three out of 10 road accidents that take place in the US every year are rear-end collisions. This type of accident happens when a vehicle collides into the vehicle in front of it. If you’re rear-ended, you might be wondering if you can be held liable. As what any car accident attorney would know, the answer is typically no.
Read on to find out more about this topic.
The Concept of Comparative and Contributory Negligence
Different states across the US follow different “negligence systems” to determine how much compensation will the rear-ended receive in case of rear-end collisions.
Under the contributory negligence system, if the front vehicle driver is proven to have committed negligence, then he or she will be disqualified from getting compensated — no matter what the degree of negligence is.
On the other hand, the comparative negligence system offers a more equitable way of resolving rear-end collisions: The accountability is split based on the percentage of each driver’s fault. For instance, if the front vehicle driver is found to be 30% at fault, then he or she is eligible to collect 70% of the total amount of compensation.
In this case, getting a reliable auto accident attorney can help you maximize the amount of money you can recover.
In some states, a modified comparative negligence system is being followed. In this system, if a driver meets or exceeds a certain percentage of liability (which is typically at 50%), then he or she will be barred from recovery.
When You Can Be At Fault
As stated, in most cases, the driver of the car in the back is at fault in rear-end collisions. However, if you’re proven to have had negligence that led to the accident, you can also be held partially accountable. These situations include the following:
You drove erratically
You have suddenly put your car in reverse
Your brake lights are broken or did not function
You stopped to make a turn yet you did not turn completely
You got a flat tire and you did not pull over
You did not put on hazard lights to warn other drivers that you’re facing a car issue
You intentionally tried to get hit
You were drunk driving
You were distracted while driving (e.g. Texting, eating)
If you are in any of these situations, you can be considered to have comparative or contributory negligence that may deem you eligible for monetary compensation. With the help of a car accident attorney, you can defend your case and protect your interest.
If The Other Driver Is Really At Fault
Now, what if you’re rear-ended and it is indeed the other driver’s fault? You will still need to get an auto accident attorney to help you prove your claim. But apart from proving the other driver’s negligence, your lawyer will also help you accomplish various paperwork and make sure you receive the rightful compensatory damages.
These compensatory damages generally cover your medical bills — from your emergency room expenses to the costs you will incur from undergoing physical or occupational therapy; medical prescriptions and supplies; lost income and lost earning capacity; pain, suffering, and emotional stress.