UPDATED: Aug 26, 2020
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You do your best to drive safely. You never look at your phone, you keep all other distractions to the absolute minimum, and you are always on the defense. However, no matter how cautious you are, there’s still a chance that you could be involved in an accident. Take the following scenario, for example:
You’re driving down the road, obeying the speed limit, heeding all traffic signs, and keeping a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the driver in that car in front of you slams on his brakes, and despite your best attempt to avoid a collision, you end up rear-ending him.
Believe it or not, rear-end collisions are extremely common. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that rear-end collisions account for nearly 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents that involve two vehicles. In other words, almost half of car accidents involve one driver hitting into another car from behind.
While it might be comforting to know that rear-end collisions are extremely common, it doesn’t exactly give you peace of mind in terms of knowing who will be held responsible and how it will affect your insurance. If you’re wondering who is at fault when a driver slams on his brakes and you collide with him from behind, keep on reading to find out.
Who’s At-Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
Generally, the driver who hit the vehicle from behind will be held responsible. Why? – Because of something that is referred to as “duty of care”. In layman’s terms, this means that all motorists are expected to practice a reasonable standard of care while they are driving. In other words, you have a “duty of care” to be a responsible driver when you are behind the wheel of a car.
As a motorist, you are expected to execute safe and defensive driving tactics, which include:
- Maintaining a safe distance between your car and other vehicles
- Controlling your vehicle
- Adhering to speed limits
- Obeying the rules of the road
- Being prepared for unexpected changes in the behavior of other driver’s
If you fail to uphold reasonable care while you are driving, generally, law enforcement officials (and insurance companies) will find you negligent. In other words, any collisions that occur as a result of failing to uphold “duty of care” would end up making you liable.
Regarding a colliding with a driver from behind who suddenly slammed on his brakes, it will likely be determined that you were not maintaining a safe distance and that you were not prepared for sudden changes in the flow of traffic (see points above).
In other words, in the eyes of the law, even if the other driver slammed on his brakes out of nowhere, if you had kept a safe distance and were prepared for changes in driving patterns you would not have rear-ended them. Furthermore, you would have been able to react with enough time, and there would have been enough space between you and the other vehicle to bring your car to a complete stop. Hence the reason why the driver of the vehicle that hit into the car in front of them is considered at-fault.
In this case, you can expect that your car insurance would have to foot the bill for any damages to your vehicle, as well as any damages to the car you collided with. You will also likely see an increase in your insurance rates. Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates. Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
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Is the Rear Driver Always At-Fault?
While in most cases, the rear driver will be considered at-fault in a rear-end collision, there are instances when the driver of the vehicle in front will be held liable.
If any of the following apply to the driver in the front vehicle, he would be held liable for the rear-end collision:
- The driver reversed suddenly and without warning at a stop sign or traffic light
- The brake lights on the front vehicle were not working
- Suddenly stopped to make a turn, but ended up not turning
- Stopped in the middle of the road because of damage to the vehicle, and did not issue a warning of stopping (failed to use hazard lights) or pullover
- Pulled out into traffic, not leaving enough space for the cars behind him to react to the presence of his vehicle
In these types of scenarios, there is a chance that the driver who was operating the vehicle you rear-ended will be held liable. However, it’s important to note that many of these instances can be challenging to prove.
How to Avoid Rear-End Collisions
The best way to avoid a rear-end collision is always to ensure that you are driving as safely as possible. Make sure that you keep a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you, keep your eyes on the road, and always be prepared to react.
For additional safe driving tips, please check out some of the other guides on 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com: