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Are You Always at Fault if You Rear-End Another Vehicle?

“If you rear-end someone, it’s always your fault.”

Just about everyone has heard that statement at some point in their lives. With so many people repeating this advice, surely it must be true. Thankfully, our legal system is more nuanced than simply assigning blame to the trailing driver in rear-end collisions without investigating the circumstances of the crash. Although many rear-end crashes can be blamed on the drivers who end up with front-end damage to their vehicles, there are some exceptions to the rule.

Negligence Usually Equals Fault in Auto Accident Claims

First, it’s important to define what fault means when it comes to crashes. Drivers have a duty to observe and follow all traffic laws and to drive in a way that reduces unnecessary harm to themselves and others. When they fail to do so, they’re considered to be acting negligently. And when their negligence results in crashes, they can be held liable for any injuries, expenses, and other crash-related damages that are incurred.

Why Trailing Drivers Are Often Held Liable for Rear-End Crashes

When it comes to rear-end crashes, trailing drivers are often considered negligent and therefore at-fault for one simple reason: following too closely. In the eyes of the law, responding police officers, insurance companies, and many other important parties, rear-ending another vehicle means you didn’t leave enough space between your front bumper and its rear bumper. By slowing down and counting off three seconds before you reach a milestone that the vehicle in front of you just passed, your risk of rear-ending that vehicle drops to almost zero…or does it?

Rear-End Accidents Can Be the Other Drivers’ Fault, Too

Although leaving plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you is a safe driving behavior, it doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of rear-end crashes. That’s because the drivers of vehicles that get rear-ended can also be at fault in a few ways, such as:

  • Reversing suddenly into the vehicle behind them
  • Stopping suddenly to make a turn and failing to complete a turn
  • Driving with non-functioning brake lights
  • Failing to pull over or engage hazard lights when their vehicle breaks down in a lane of traffic
  • Changing lanes in front of another vehicle and immediately slamming on their brakes

Many trailing drivers are still considered partially at-fault for rear-end crashes, even when the drivers in front of them engaged in one of the dangerous behaviors listed above. Because of that, it’s important to get an experienced Oklahoma lawyer on your side as soon as possible to protect your rights.

If You’re Deemed Partially At Fault, Your Compensation Could Be Reduced

If you were involved in a rear-end crash, whether you were the leading driver or the trailing driver, you should be aware that Oklahoma’s at-fault liability statute means that your compensation may be reduced if you’re considered partially at fault. That’s particularly important if you were driving behind the vehicle that you rear-ended, as it may be difficult to convince police, the insurance company, or even a jury that you have no fault for the accident, not even 1% fault.

At Parrish DeVaughn, our attorneys know that rear-end crashes are rarely cut and dry. They deserve complete and thorough investigations to get to the bottom of what happened, and the at-fault drivers should be held responsible for their full share of the fault. When we take on claims for injured drivers, we begin our investigations without any preconceived notions. It’s our goal to find evidence and let the facts speak for themselves.

Get Our Experienced Lawyers on Your Side Today

Rear-end crashes can result in serious injuries, including bruised vertebrae, concussions, whiplash, and even paralysis. If you’re found to be partially or fully at fault for a rear-end collision because of bias or inadequate investigation, you may lose out on some or all of the money you need for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other crash-related expenses.

Don’t take that risk. Our auto accident attorneys will give your claim the time, attention, and resources it deserves. Contact us today for a free consultation. It’s our goal to help the people of Oklahoma get the money they deserve when they’re injured due to others’ negligence.