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Who is responsible in a rear-end collision?

November 20, 2019 | 3 min read

Who is responsible in a rear-end collision?

The scene of an accident can be chaotic. The collision itself is shocking, if not downright terrifying. Drivers immediately worry about the health of themselves and their passengers, on top of the extent of the damage to their vehicle. Emotions can run high, and it is not uncommon for those involved to finger-point and place blame on who they believe to be the at-fault party. When the dust settles, it will ultimately be up to the victim seeking compensation for his or her injuries to prove that the other driver was responsible for causing the crash.

The trailing driver is usually responsible in a rear-end collision.

If you take the wheel, you owe a duty to drive with the skill level that one would expect from a reasonable and prudent driver. If you fail to live up to that standard, you could be held responsible for losses sustained as a result of your negligent or careless conduct. In the context of rear-end accidents, the trailing driver is frequently found to be at fault because of Ohio’s “Assured Clear Distance Ahead” statute. The Ohio Revised Code requires you maintain a safe speed and distance behind the vehicle traveling in front of you such that you could avoid an accident if you must come to a sudden stop. Trailing drivers involved in rear-end collisions are frequently cited by police for failing to maintain an assured clear distance ahead.

Not every rear-end collision is the trailing driver’s fault.

Most rear-end collisions occur because the trailing driver was distracted or tailgating, but there are circumstances in which the driver of the leading vehicle is found to be at least partially at fault for a collision. For example, under Ohio’s “comparative fault” rule, a plaintiff can only recover damages if he or she is deemed to be less than 51 percent responsible for the accident. Further, any damages awarded will be reduced by the plaintiff’s share of the blame if it is determined that the plaintiff was also at fault. Therefore, the trailing driver (or insurance company) may attempt to argue that the lead driver was at least partially to blame for the accident.

Non-functioning brake lights, distracted or impaired driving, or sudden and erratic stopping, swerving, or reversing are examples of circumstances in which the lead driver could be found to be wholly or partially at fault in a rear-end collision. Another circumstance that could make the allocation of responsibility more complex is if the rear-end accident results in a multi-car pileup. This is why it is important that police come to the scene and generate an accident report based off of their independent investigation.

Get the assistance you need.

If you were involved in a car crash and are making an insurance claim or are considering a lawsuit, you will want to get a copy of your accident report to see if anyone was given a ticket. If a driver receives a citation for his or her role in an accident, that driver’s liability becomes easier to argue when presenting your case to an insurance company or a jury. Even if proving liability is fairly straightforward, it is only one part of the equation. You will have to prove the extent of your damages and convince an insurance company or jury that you deserve the money you are seeking. Because of the complications that can arise following a collision, it is important that you contact a Cincinnati personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident.

Following a collision, your focus should be on the health of yourself and your loved ones. Dealing with questions of liability and insurance coverage can place an unnecessary strain on your recovery efforts. Burg Simpson’s experienced Cincinnati car accident lawyers can lighten that burden with their in-depth knowledge of the personal injury claim process. Our award-winning personal injury team will investigate the accident, detail the financial and medical implications, and deal with the insurance companies to fight for the money you deserve. Call 513-852-5600 or fill out our contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation today!