It is no secret that car accidents can easily result in significant and life-altering injury to you and your passengers, as well as damage to your vehicle. It is also no secret that if the accident was caused by another driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries, medical bills, damage to your car, and compensation for any injuries sustained by your passengers. If your accident involved you rear-ending another vehicle, however, you may have heard that you will not be able to recover any compensation from the other driver, even if you believe he or she was at fault. This is not necessarily the case. Whether you can sue the driver that you rear-ended depends on three basic things: (1) Who was at fault?, (2) What is the law in your state?, and (3) What is the evidence?
- Who was at fault in the accident? As a rule of thumb, if you rear-ended someone, you may have been following too closely, and so the accident is technically your fault. There are, however, many scenarios in which a driver that rear-ended another is not at fault. For example, if the vehicle in front of you was attempting to merge, but failed to keep a look out and veered back into your lane to avoid a collision in the merging lane, you may have made contact with the back of their vehicle through no fault of your own. Similarly, if a vehicle does not use a turn signal and slams on their brakes to merge or make a turn at the last minute, you may also not be at fault if you were keeping a good look out and were following from a safe distance at the posted speed limit.
- What is the law in your state? The law of your state will lay out who is presumptively at fault in a rear-end accident. However, even in the strictest states, there is usually an option to challenge the presumption that the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle is at fault. If the accident was not due to your inattention or driving skills, you may have a case to make to the court for your injuries.
- What is the evidence? Whether you have a case that you could win in court will depend not only on whether you were at fault and the law of your state, but it will also depend on what evidence you are able to offer to support your claim. If it is just your word against the other driver’s, that can be a difficult case to win. However, if you have evidence such as a police report that outlines the accident, especially if the police officer ticketed the other driver during the crash investigation, or a statement from the other driver that someone else heard admitting fault or inattention, you may be able to build a convincing case.
If you were hurt in an accident involving a rear-end crash, consider calling an auto accident lawyer to discuss the law of your state and your options for bringing a case. Just because you rear-ended someone does not necessarily mean that you are at fault or that you should have to bear the burden of your injuries alone.