Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

driver rear-ends another vehicleRear-end collisions happen every day, resulting in significant injuries and damages. Victims may suffer debilitating back or neck pain that requires extensive medical treatment. The driver who rear-ended the car in front is often presumed to be at fault. However, this does not mean the rear driver is always the only one to blame for the crash and any damages.     

An Oshkosh car accident lawyer from our firm is prepared to review your claim and evaluate whether you may be eligible to pursue compensation in a free legal consultation. You are not obligated to retain our services after this initial meeting but if you do, we charge no fees unless we help you obtain a recovery. 

Why Rear-End Collisions Commonly Happen

Most rear-end accidents are preventable and often caused by negligence, such as:

  • Tailgating or following too closely
  • Speeding or aggressive driving
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving in bad weather or road conditions
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Driving while impaired
  • Driving while fatigued

All drivers sharing the roadway have a duty to drive in a safe manner. This includes maintaining a safe following distance between your car and the car in front of you. Drivers may sometimes stop suddenly and unexpectedly, slow down or come to a complete stop due to traffic congestion or to avoid a hazard on the road. If you follow too close, you will not have enough time to stop before crashing into the back of the car in front of you.

However, it is also the responsibility of the lead driver to maintain a consistent speed while driving. Stopping suddenly could cause a crash, even if the rear driver is not tailgating.

Comparative Negligence for a Rear-End Crash

Wisconsin follows a modified comparative negligence law, which means that that each driver involved in a rear-end collision in the state could potentially be found partially at fault. If you are found to share some responsibility, it will impact the amount of compensation you may be eligible to receive. Your settlement amount would be decreased according to the percentage of fault assigned.

It is important to note that the law will also prohibit you from receiving compensation from any drivers who are less at fault than you for the crash. That is why it is in your best interest to have an experienced lawyer on your side to thoroughly investigate the accident and collect evidence.

To receive compensation, you and your lawyer would need to prove that the driver who rear-ended you is at fault for the accident and caused your injuries by failing to maintain a safe distance.

Witness statements in these cases may provide useful, objective information about how the crash happened as well as what caused you to be rear-ended (inattentive driving, etc.). Accident reconstruction experts could also be hired to help determine the other driver’s speed upon impact.

Instances When the Lead Driver Could Be at Fault

Generally, the rear driver is presumed to be at fault in a crash. Evidence collected may prove otherwise. Some situations in which the lead driver may also be negligent include:

  • Unexpectedly putting the car in reverse
  • Making a sudden and erratic maneuver
  • Slamming on the brakes for no apparent reason
  • Abruptly stopping to turn but failing to turn
  • Cutting in front of a driver without time for him or her to break
  • Having faulty brake lights, making it hard for a driver to see him or her braking
  • Getting a flat tire but not pulling off the road or turning on hazard lights

Injuries Sustained in Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end accidents can cause significant injuries depending on the speed the driver in the back was traveling when his or her collided with the car in front.

Low-speed impacts during traffic congestion can seem harmless but could result in an injury that remains hidden or not immediately apparent. This is why is important to still seek medical care even if you think you have not been seriously injured.

Being rear-ended at a high rate of speed, however, at a red light or stop sign, can cause severe trauma and require ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.   

Some of the most common injuries sustained in a rear-end accident include:

  • Whiplash – Being rear-ended can cause sudden involuntary movement of the neck. Symptoms of whiplash include neck and back pain, headaches, and numbness or tingling in the arms.
  • Traumatic head injuries – A head injury can result in a concussion, loss of consciousness, swelling of the brain and cognitive difficulties. Symptoms may not be visible for days or weeks.
  • Back injuries – The force of impact even at low speeds can cause injury to the spinal cord, like nerve damage or a herniated disk. Severe back pain, numbness, tingling or paralysis can occur.
  • Fractured bones – Fracturing a bone, particularly in the fingers, hands, wrist or arms, can be incredibly painful and result in long-term complications that may require surgery.
  • Lacerations – The force of a rear-end crash can cause cuts to the face and other parts of the body from shattered windows in the car. More serious lacerations may require more care.

Contact Our Dedicated Legal Team Today

If you were injured in a rear-end crash, you may be eligible to collect compensation to help cover medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering, among other damages.

Our dedicated legal team is available to answer your questions and discuss your legal options. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation today. There is no risk in calling our office to learn more and no obligation to have our firm represent you. If you do decide to move forward, we charge no upfront fees and no fees while we work on your potential case.

Call (877) 888-5201 get started.