Rear Collisions: Who’s Fault is It?
When you are involved in a rear end collision with another vehicle and you are the one who did the rear ending, the general rule of thumb is that you are totally at fault and will be liable for any damages. Proving at least partial negligence on the other driver is difficult, but not impossible.
The tailing driver is usually blamed in large part, due to the assured clear distance ahead rule. This means you must keep an acceptable distance behind another driver to be prepared to stop in a timely manner in any event. If a car stops suddenly in front of you, or you turn a corner and there is a disabled vehicle in the road and, in either case, you cannot stop in time and rear end it, you are in violation of the assured clear distance ahead rule and can be held liable, because you did not keep a suitable distance to prepare for a sudden stop.
Cases where you may be able to bend the rule to some extent would be if someone passes you, you are traveling the speed limit, they cut back in too close and do not maintain the speed limit. Another would be another driver cutting in front of you from a side street, not giving you enough time to avoid striking them.
The driver ahead of you went too far into the intersection at a red light, puts their car in reverse and hits the front of your car-unfortunately, when there is a lack of witnesses, it is their word against yours. Other scenarios that could show fault on the driver in front; brake lights not working to signal a slowdown or stop, turning signal on to alert you of a turn that the driver then fails to execute, or they blow a tire and fail to move the car to a safe location off the road. These could all show a degree of negligence culminating in some comparative or contributory negligence claim reducing monetary recovery.
Another scenario involving you rear ending another vehicle is the vehicle ahead of you stops suddenly, you also brake and come to a stop behind it when, all of a sudden, the next car in line hits you in the rear and pushes you into the car you are stopped behind. In this case, both the first and second driver can turn to the third car driver for liability and damages through their liability insurance coverage.
Traffic and liability laws will protect the middle driver because it is clear that the collision between the middle and first car was the direct result of the actions of the third driver. You may need to contact a lawyer to help with evidence and witness testimony to help prove fault in your case.