Rear-End Collisions: Who is at Fault?
Rear-end collisions can happen anywhere—at an intersection, in a parking lot, or even out on the
open road. They can leave people with serious injuries like whiplash or fractured vertebrae. One
question we hear often is, “Who is responsible for a rear-end collision?” In most cases, the
tailing vehicle that strikes the one ahead is the at-fault party.
How Fault is Determined?
In North Carolina, fault is determined by identifying who (if anyone) was negligent. ‘Negligent’
is the legal term for the failure to use ordinary care. North Carolina law requires that motorists
operate their vehicle as an ordinarily careful person would. When you fail to do that, then you
are legally responsible for the accident and the economic consequences.
There are many ways people are negligent when behind the wheel of a vehicle:
● Following too closely (tailgating)
● Failing to apply the brakes in time
● Driving while distracted
● Driving while impaired
Many rear-end collisions are caused by the above reasons. A classic example is an aggressive
driver who is tailgating the car in front of it because he or she is in a rush to get to a destination.
When the lead car hits the brakes, there is not enough time for the trailing car to stop without
crashing into the rear fender, causing damage to the vehicle and physical injuries.
Can the Lead Car’s Driver Ever be at Fault?
Yes, it is possible. A driver might suddenly hit the brakes for no reason or might not pull a
vehicle off the road completely before it gets clipped by traffic. In these situations, the driver
who got hit might bear some or all of the responsibility for the collision.
Under North Carolina law, if a person contributes to his or her own accident, then that person is
barred from receiving any compensation. This is the “contributory negligence” doctrine, and it
can prevent a person from receiving money if he or she were even 1% responsible for the crash.
What Evidence is Important to a Rear-End Crash?
An insurance adjuster will want to know what happened to determine fault, since the driver at
fault is responsible for paying compensation to any injured victims. Different types of evidence
are important, such as:
● Your own memories of what happened
● The testimony of third-party witnesses, such as a passenger or a person standing in the
● Damage to the vehicles, which can yield important clues about who is to blame
● Any surveillance video that captured the accident
By reviewing this evidence, we can swiftly identify who is to blame for the collision and make a
claim for compensation for your injuries.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers for Help
If you have been involved in a wreck, you should secure the help of an attorney to analyze your
case. At Hodges Coxe Potter & Phillips, our Wilmington car accident lawyers are well-versed in rear end collisions, and we can help build a strong case to present to an insurance adjuster or a
Contact us today. You can call 910-772-1678 to schedule a free consultation.