Rear-End Collisions: Analyzing Fault Is Not Easy

Rear-End Collisions: Analyzing Fault Is Not Easy
September 28, 2013 jamesludlow

With the closure of the I-70/I-65 split in downtown Indianapolis for construction this month, the increased – and frequently bumper-to-bumper – traffic I see on I-465 during my commute often brings to mind the topic of rear-end collisions.

The common adage is that the vehicle striking another from the rear is always at fault. This is because in your typical rear-end collision the “following” driver violates their duties under Indiana law to keep a proper lookout and not to follow too closely. In other words, they fail to watch where they are going and they tailgate the cars ahead of them, both of which lead to a collision. Violations of these duties are what place the offending driver at fault. However, under some circumstances, the striking driver can escape liability all together, or at least be assessed a smaller portion of fault than other drivers.

For example, if a “leading” vehicle pulled out suddenly in front of a “following” driver causing a crash, the “leading” driver has violated his duty to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic when entering a roadway or intersection. This violation will often shift the fault to the driver who pulled out into traffic, interfering with the vehicle having the right-of-way. Similarly, if a “leading” vehicle fails to give a proper warning signal that it was slowing or stopping – usually by the activation of the car’s brake lights or a good, old fashioned hand signal – the driver may bear fault for a collision under the law.

Additionally, a “leading” driver may be liable for a crash if they stopped suddenly without good cause, even if their brake lights function properly. This is especially true if the act was intentional, such as when an aggressive driver pulls a “break check” to scare other drivers by stopping suddenly in front of them. Such a dangerous act will often be punished by giving that driver 100% of the fault for a crash.

So, while the “following” driver is often determined to be “at fault” for a rear-end crash, there are several exceptions that might shift fault to the other driver and make them responsible for compensating an injured person. All of these exceptions are extremely fact-sensitive and need reliable evidence to help solidify a claim. Therefore, it is important to get help early in the process to develop your case and locate key evidence.

For experienced help after experiencing a rear-end collision or to talk to me about your injury, contact the offices of Indiana Car Accident Attorney James Ludlow. My firm can be reached toll-free at (877) 897-9466 or by filling out the simple form on the Contact Us page.