Who Is At Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
When seeking compensation for the losses, victims must prove fault to be able to get compensation. In most cases, the law assumes that the rear end or approaching driver is at fault since they are required to keep safe following distance. An attorney can help establish which party was negligent for the rear-end collision and who will be liable for the damages.
If you have been seriously injured in a rear-end collision, our firm can help you establish fault. A Wisconsin rear-end accident lawyer will examine your case to determine who was negligent in a successful compensation claim. We’ll go over the rear-end collisions, determining the fault and value of legal representation in navigating such cases.
Frequency and Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions are a common type of road traffic accident and account for a significant portion of auto crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports indicate that rear-end crashes account for around 32% of auto crashes.
Several factors may contribute to rear-end collisions. These include:
- Tailgating: Drivers should maintain at least 4 seconds of following distance under normal driving circumstances. This allows enough reaction time and reduces the chances of a collision if the lead vehicle stops suddenly.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving denotes a driver who doesn’t pay adequate attention to the road. For instance, phone usage while driving can make drivers less likely to react promptly to changes in leading traffic, causing a rear-end crash.
- Speeding: Driving at excessive speeds leaves little room for error. Speeding drivers usually find it difficult to stop in time if the vehicle in front suddenly stops or slows down.
- Poor weather conditions: Adverse weather conditions like fog can reduce visibility and traction. This makes it challenging for drivers to maintain a safe following distance.
- Faulty brakes or vehicle maintenance: Inadequate maintenance may cause a vehicle to malfunction. If, for example, a following vehicle can’t brake successfully due to lack of maintenance, this could lead to a rear-end collision.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): In Wisconsin, if you drive with a 0.08 BAC, this is considered drunk driving. When drivers are operating while under the influence of drugs, their reaction time and decision-making abilities are impaired. This can result in erratic driving behavior, which increases the risk of rear-end collisions.
- Traffic law violation: Any traffic violations can cause these accidents. For example, failure to maintain posted speed limits, dangerous lane changes, and abrupt cuts in front of another vehicle can lead to a rear-end collision.
If it is established that any of the above factors caused a rear-end collision, the at-fault driver is legally liable for the damages. A personal injury lawyer can help establish negligence to ensure compensation for damages.
Consequences of Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end accidents may lead to mild or catastrophic injuries. Regrettably, some of these accidents result in fatalities. For instance, there were 2,949 fatal rear-end collisions in 2021, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The injuries victims may suffer from rear-end crashes include
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Facial injuries
- Psychological trauma
- Internal injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Chest injuries
- Limb injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Fractures and breaks
- Contusions and bruises
- Abrasions and lacerations
Establishing these injuries is key to claiming compensation. Usually, a lawyer will prove the injuries and their severity to ensure adequate compensation for the victims.
Holding the At-Fault Driver Accountable
In Wisconsin, negligence laws follow the principle of modified comparative negligence. This means that even if you, as the injured party, were partially at fault in the rear-end accident, you may still recover some portion of the settlement. Therefore, the amount you receive will be reduced based on the percentage of your negligence.
Rear Driver Liability
In most cases, the rear driver is believed to be capable of reacting appropriately to avoid rear-end crashes. This places the presumption of 100% liability on them for the rear-end collisions. However, the burden rests on the victim to demonstrate their lack of negligence while establishing the rear driver’s negligent actions.
Front Driver Liability
Being a front driver only sometimes exempts you from the duty to avoid accidents. There are instances where a front driver could be found liable for a rear-end collision. This can happen due to negligent behavior, such as making sudden and unjustified stops or failing to use turn signals when turning. In these cases, the front driver may share or bear full liability for the accident.
Multiple Vehicle Liability
Rear-end accidents can sometimes involve multiple vehicles in a chain reaction. For example, a car in front of the leading vehicle brakes suddenly without warning, causing the leading driver to stop abruptly, resulting in the rear vehicle colliding with the leading car.
In such cases, several drivers may potentially share some liability. Still, depending on the circumstances, the driver in front can be considered liable if their negligent actions are determined to have initiated the chain reaction.
While drivers involved in the accident are typically the primary parties accountable, there are instances where liability extends beyond the drivers. This includes situations where a vehicle manufacturer’s faulty brakes contributed to the accident.
Also, if a government agency was negligent in road maintenance, leading to a crash, they may bear some responsibility. They may be held accountable for the accident or bear some share.
To successfully hold the at-fault accountable, you must prove negligence on their part. This relies on the evidence you present, such as photos and videos, broken pieces of the car, and medical records.
I Was Rear-Ended; Should I Get a Lawyer?
After you’ve been rear-ended, we highly advise victims to seek legal representation. In many cases, serious rear-end collisions result in severe injuries that require hospitalization or ongoing doctor’s visits. In such cases, you need to engage the services of a lawyer to manage the legal aspects of your case while you focus on healing.
How a Lawyer Can Help?
Enlisting the help of a lawyer can make a whole difference in the pursuit of compensation. Here are some key ways in which a legal advocate can help:
Offering Legal Advice
Car accident lawyers have much experience dealing with several types of auto accidents. As a result, they can be in a position to assess your case keenly and offer legal advice for the best course of action. When you cannot make the right decision due to the impact of the accident, your attorney will guide you through the legal case and ensure you make informed decisions.
Determining Who Is at Fault
One of the key tasks following a rear-end collision is establishing fault. This process involves a comprehensive investigation, collection of evidence, and a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the accident.
Your attorney will gather police reports, witness statements, photographs of the accident scene, and any available video footage. They will meticulously review these materials to reconstruct the sequence of events leading to the rear-end collision.
Navigating personal injury claims on your own can be a daunting task. For instance, it can be challenging to prove liability when a government agency’s negligence contributes to a rear-end accident. Government entities often have legal immunities and specific procedures to be followed when pursuing a claim against them. A personal injury lawyer can navigate the complex matter on your behalf and ensure the responsible government agency bears responsibility.
Insurance companies can be hard to negotiate with. They have all the tactics to lowball settlements. For instance, they may offer quick settlements as a way of sympathizing with you for your immediate injuries. However, this is a trick to avoid liability for additional medical bills that may accrue later. Having a lawyer on your side will ensure the opposing counsel doesn’t take advantage of your situation.
Also, the other party’s legal team may challenge the evidence of damages in court. They may dispute the severity of your injuries to reduce their liability and potentially diminish the compensation you receive. However, an attorney will help prove your injuries and negotiate for a settlement that genuinely covers your damages, such as:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation and ongoing care
- Property damage
- Wrongful death
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Your attorney will take up your case and ensure that your rights are protected under the Wisconsin law. Usually, lawyers know the right approach to each special personal injury case, and they know how to get you the proper support and resources you need for recovery.
Contact a Wisconsin Car Accident Attorney to Get Your Free Case Review
To successfully recover your losses after a rear-end accident in Wisconsin, you need to determine fault correctly. Determining who is at fault, however, can be challenging due to potential debates over who caused the crash. A car accident lawyer will help determine fault and ensure you receive the right compensation.
At Mingo and Yankala, S.C., we have a proven track record of leveraging the law in the factor of clients, securing millions in settlements. If you’ve suffered injuries in a rear-end accident, we are here to support you through this challenging time. Contact us today at (414) 206-1294 for a free and confidential case review.