Why Do Rear-End Collisions Happen and Who’s to Blame?

One minute you’re sitting at a stop sign, waiting to turn, and the next — Boom! — you’ve been struck from behind by another vehicle. Rear-end accidents can be scary and often have life-changing consequences for the victims.

Facts About Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end accidents are among the most common types of accidents and can be some of the most dangerous. Oftentimes, the driver who is struck from behind doesn’t have a chance to get out of the way or perform any evasive maneuvers — they’re simply sitting ducks and may not even be able to brace themselves for impact.

One study notes that rear-end accidents account for 29% of collisions resulting in serious injury. Furthermore, according to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 20% of car accident fatalities are caused by two-vehicle rear-end collisions.

Like many car accidents, rear-end collisions are generally a result of driver negligence, and in most cases, the driver that rear-ends the other party is at fault. However, this may not always be the case, so it’s essential to have a police report of the accident and to hire a car accident lawyer to protect your interests.

Why Is the Rear Driver Often at Fault for Rear-End Accidents?

All drivers are automatically assumed to have a duty of care while on the road, meaning they have to follow all traffic laws and exercise sound judgment behind the wheel. In the following common occurrences, the driver who hits the other vehicle from behind is at fault:

  • One driver slows for a traffic slow-down, but the person behind them doesn’t stop in time
  • A driver doesn’t notice a turn signal on the vehicle in front of them and crashes into them as they turn
  • One driver tries to beat a yellow light, not realizing the person in front of them is stopping
  • A driver thinks the car in front of them will immediately go when the light turns green

In these and other similar scenarios, the driver behind is responsible for the crash and may be liable for the bodily injuries and property damages of the driver they hit. However, there are other times when both drivers may be at fault.

For example, in these situations, blame may be shared more equally:

  • The leading driver slams on their brakes for no apparent reason
  • The car in the lead places its vehicle in reverse while in a traffic lane
  • The leading car’s brake lights aren’t working
  • The car in front doesn’t signal intentions to turn

These situations don’t completely exonerate the driver behind, but the driver in the lead also shares some of the blame for the accident. Questions of liability can be murky in these cases. This can become significant when drivers are filing a claim for damages.

Pennsylvania Comparative Fault Law for Rear-End Accidents

When the accident is clearly the fault of the driver behind, then the lead driver may file a claim for damages, including medical bills and repairing or replacing the vehicle. However, in cases when both drivers share the blame for the accident, Pennsylvania’s comparative fault laws come into play. Pennsylvania has what is called modified comparative negligence. Specifically, Pennsylvania follows a “51%” rule.

When there’s shared responsibility for an accident, the victim may still file a claim, but a judge can reduce the total damages if they determine that the victim shares some of the blame.

For example, if the total damages are $100,000 but the victim is deemed to be 25% to blame, the damages awarded to the victim will be reduced by 25% as well, with the net award being $75,000. And if the victim is found to be 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages at all.

Contact an Award-Winning Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer For Help

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in Harrisburg or elsewhere in the state of Pennsylvania, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates. Our award-winning Harrisburg car accident lawyers can help you understand your rights and fight to secure the financial award you may deserve. Please contact us at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 955-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963