Who is at fault when you get in a rear-end collision depends on the circumstances of your accident. The person who hit your car from behind is not necessarily solely or even primarily responsible.
It may be difficult for you to determine who is at fault without help from a car accident lawyer. Determining who is at fault is vitally important if you wish to file a lawsuit against the person or organization responsible for your accident.
Possible At-Fault Parties
Rear-end collisions can vary so widely. Some examples of possible at-fault parties include:
The Other Driver
Many rear-end accidents are caused by careless drivers who:
- Indulge in distractions like using their phone, eating or drinking, or adjusting the radio
- Drive too closely to the car in front of them, allowing insufficient room for braking
- Drive too quickly, so they cannot stop in time when the vehicle in front of them slows down
The Driver Who Was Rear-Ended
As counterintuitive as it may seem, some rear-end collisions are caused by the victim—i.e., the person who got hit—rather than the person who hit them. This could be the case when:
- The driver brakes suddenly or for no apparent reason
- The driver was behaving erratically due to drugs or alcohol, making it difficult for others to predict their movements
- The driver changes lanes without signaling properly
An Auto Manufacturer or Mechanic
Sometimes, it is not a human error but a mechanical error that is directly responsible for a rear-end collision. This can occur when something goes wrong with a vehicle:
- Steering wheel or steering column
Who is at fault in such cases? That depends on how the part in question malfunctioned. If it was a manufacturing error, the company responsible for making the product might be liable. A mechanic might be liable if the malfunction occurred due to poor maintenance.
The Local Government
While our taxes pay for road maintenance, it is up to the local government to use those funds responsibly and see to the timely, efficient upkeep of the roadway. This involves:
- Responding promptly when a citizen complains about a problem
- Replacing downed traffic signs
- Repairing broken traffic lights and streetlights
- Filling in potholes and cracks in the road and repaving older roads
- Cutting grass and trimming foliage that may bend into the road and obstruct driver visibility
- Repaint crosswalks and other surfaces as they age
When rear-end collisions occur because of an unsafe roadway, the local government is at fault.
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What to Do After a Rear-End Collision
Immediately after the accident, pull to the side of the road if possible. The driver who hit you should also pull over: O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 states that leaving the scene of an accident in which you were involved is illegal.
If you are both in good enough shape for a discussion, talk to the other driver. Get their contact and insurance information if you can. This information can make it much easier for you to collect compensation if it turns out the other driver is the at-fault party.
It is also important that you are careful about what you say to the other driver. Making any statements that sound like an admission of fault could come back to haunt you if you seek compensation.
There May Be Multiple At-Fault Parties
Some accidents are more complicated than others. For example, maybe the driver who hit you was tailgating but only lost control due to a faulty brake system. Alternately, perhaps the driver was going too fast but was also impaired by poor visibility stemming from a broken streetlight.
In the illustrations cited above, both a driver and another party share blame, and you may be able to receive a car accident settlement from more than one party.
This is why seeking professional legal advice is important for car accident victims. It is difficult to be sure that your case does (or does not) involve multiple liable parties unless you:
- Tell your story to a car accident attorney
- Have access to a professional who can educate you about your rights and investigate the actual cause(s) of the accident
- Explain what the evidence means and begin the process of acting on it, i.e., filing your case with all appropriate parties
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Have You Been Rear-Ended? Call Us Today
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers wants to help you determine who is at fault for your rear-end collision. When you get hit by another car, it is crucial to figure out exactly what happened so you can better weigh your options for recovering compensation. We offer free consultations to help you understand your rights.