I Rear-Ended Another Vehicle After They Slammed On Their Brakes. Who Is At-Fault?
You do your best to drive safely. You avoid looking at your phone, you keep all other distractions to an absolute minimum, and you always take care to drive defensively. However, no matter how cautious you are, there’s always a chance that you could be involved in an accident! Imagine you experienced something like the following example:
You’re driving down the road, obeying the speed limit, heeding all traffic signs, and keeping a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, the driver in front of you slams on their brakes, and though you attempt to avoid a collision, you end up rear-ending them. *CRUNCH!!!*
In fact, rear-end collisions are extremely common. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that rear-end collisions account for nearly 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents that involve two vehicles. In other words, about half of all car accidents involve one driver inadvertently slamming into another car from behind.
While it might be comforting to know that rear-end collisions are commonplace, it doesn’t give you peace-of-mind in terms of knowing who will be held responsible and how it will affect your insurance. If you’re wondering who is at-fault when a driver slams on his brakes and you collide with him from behind, keep reading to find out!
Who’s At-Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
In general, the driver who hit the other vehicle from behind will be held responsible. You may be surprised and ask “WHY?!” – This policy can largely be attributed to the phrase “duty of care”. This basically means that all motorists are expected to practice a reasonable standard of care while they are driving. In other words, you have a “duty of care” to be a responsible driver when you are behind the wheel of a car.
As a motorist, you are expected to execute safe and defensive driving tactics, which include:
- Maintaining a safe distance between your car and others
- Controlling your car at all times
- Obeying posted speed limits
- Adhering to the rules of the road
- Being prepared for any unexpected changes in other driver’s behavior
If you fail to uphold “reasonable care” while you are driving, generally, law enforcement officials (and insurance companies) will find you negligent. In other words, any collisions that occur as a result of failing to uphold “duty of care” would result in your being held liable.
In regards to colliding with a driver from behind who suddenly slammed on his brakes, it will most likely be determined that you were not maintaining a safe distance, and/or that you were not prepared for sudden changes in the flow of traffic (see points above).
In the eyes of the law, even if the other driver slammed on his brakes out of nowhere, it was your responsibly to keep a safe distance and be prepared for changes in driving patterns. Furthermore, the police and insurance companies will argue that you would have been able to react with enough time had there been enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Thus, the reason why the driver of the vehicle that hit into the car in front of them is considered at-fault.
Unfortunately in this case, you could expect your car insurance to foot the bill for any damages to your vehicle, as well as any damages to the vehicle you collided with, and would also likely result in an increase in your insurance premiums.
Is the Rear Driver Always At-Fault?
While in most cases, the rear driver will be considered at-fault in a rear-end collision, there are instances when the driver of the vehicle in front will be held liable.
If any of the following apply to driver in the front vehicle, they could be held liable for the rear-end collision:
- The driver reversed suddenly and without warning at a stop sign or traffic light
- The brake lights on their vehicle were malfunctioning
- They suddenly stopped to make a turn, but ended up not turning
- The driver stopped in the middle of the road because of damage to the vehicle, and did not issue a warning of stopping (failed to use hazard lights) or pull over
- The driver pulled out into traffic, not leaving enough space for the cars behind him to react to the presence of his vehicle
In these types of scenarios, there is a chance that the driver who was operating the vehicle you rear-ended will be held liable. However, it’s important to note that many of these instances can be difficult to prove.
How to Avoid Rear-End Collisions
The best way to avoid a rear-end collision is to always ensure that you are driving as safely as possible. Make sure that you keep a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you, keep your eyes on the road, and always be prepared to react! Have additional questions about your rear-end collision? Are you considering changing your insurance provider? Contact The Trottier Insurance Group today to discuss all of your insurance needs!