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If You Rear End Someone Is it Always Your Fault?

Whether or not the rear driver is always at fault, as they are often assumed to be.

After an accident in Indiana, one of the most important elements of the claims process is establishing fault. Indeed, because Indiana is an at-fault car insurance state, drivers who cause accidents are expected to pay for the damages that result. However, fault in an accident isn’t always clear, and when there is a dispute about fault, the claims process could be delayed or a claimant’s settlement could be reduced.

At the Delventhal Law Office, our lawyers are often asked about fault in rear-end collisions, and whether or not the rear driver is always at fault, as they are often assumed to be. If you are involved in a rear-end crash in our state, call our lawyers for a free consultation and more information about fault and how to prove it.

The Rear Driver Isn’t Always at Fault

While it is true that, in most cases, the rear driver is expected to maintain a safe following distance and therefore will be found at fault for a collision when a rear-end accident occurs, this is not always the case. In fact, there are some situations that, even when maintaining a reasonable following distance, a rear-end collision occurs because of the actions of the driver of the vehicle that is rear-ended (driver in front). Examples of this include:

  • The forward driver has failed to maintain working brake lights, and therefore the fact that the driver is slowing and coming to a stop is not obvious to the rear driver until it is too late;
  • The forward driver performs an illegal maneuver, such as illegally lane-changing in front of the rear driver, cutting them off; or
  • The forward driver stops suddenly and unexpectedly without cause.

When any of the above situations exist, fault (and liability) may be placed on the shoulders of the forward driver or may be split between the two drivers.

In addition to the above scenarios, a rear driver may also be free from blame if the negligence of a third party were the cause of the accident. For example, if the rear driver attempted to break in time in order to avoid hitting the vehicle in front, but their vehicle’s brakes were defective, the manufacturer or distributor of those brakes may be held responsible. Poor signage or defective road conditions may also cause a crash, as could the actions of another third-party driver.

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How to Prove–or Disprove–Fault in Rear-End Car Accident Claim

In order to recover the full value of your damages via a car accident settlement, you will need to prove that your accident would not have occurred but for the actions of the other driver. If you were the rear driver in a rear-end collision, you may also be tasked with presenting evidence to disprove allegations of fault made against you. In order to do this, you’ll need to know what types of evidence are important and how to improve the outcome of your claim. Tips include:

  • Start gathering evidence early. The earlier that you can start gathering evidence, the better. This includes photos at the scene, statements from any eyewitnesses, police reports, and any other relevant evidence types. Don’t wait until days or weeks have passed to start the evidence-gathering process; evidence could be destroyed by then.
  • Work with experts. If you don’t think that you were to blame for a rear-end collision but aren’t sure how to prove it, working with an expert could make a huge difference. Accident reconstruction experts are trained in recreating accidents and determining what happened.
  • Hire a rear-end car accident attorney. One of the best things that you can do after a collision of any type is to hire an experienced attorney. Your attorney will know what types of evidence you need, will have the resources to hire experts and thoroughly investigate your crash, and will be available to answer any questions you have throughout the process.

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At the Delventhal Law office, our Fort Wayne personal injury attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights and interests of accident victims. If you or a family member was injured because of the carelessness or recklessness of another party, we can help. Our Indiana personal injury lawyers handle a wide array of legal cases, including:

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Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys in Fort Wayne Today

If you were involved in a rear-end collision in Indiana recently where you were the rear driver, do not assume that you don’t have any rights or that you must have been at fault. Instead, talk to a skilled Fort Wayne car accident attorney before drawing any conclusions. At The Delventhal Law Office, we know how to protect our clients’ best interests, and we are passionate about serving you. Call today to request your free consultation and learn more about our process. We work on a contingency fee basis.