Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

When one vehicle crashes into the rear of another on the road, the driver of the rear vehicle is usually the party responsible for the crash. However, there are many circumstances where the driver in front may be liable for damages to the other car.

Knowing who is at fault in a rear-end accident can help you seek compensation with the help of the attorneys at Cofman Townsley if you suffer an injury in this type of collision.

Rear-end crashes are among the most common car accidents in the United States. According to data collected by the NHTSA in the latest edition of the Traffic Safety Facts document, as many as 1.457 million rear-end crashes occur yearly, causing over 417,000 injuries and 2,400 fatalities. In Missouri, 5,108 people were injured, and 17 died in 2019 due to accidents where a vehicle was following too closely.

When is a Rear Driver At Fault?

Following the legal precedent established in Doggendorf v. St. Louis Public Service Company, 1960, Missouri applies a concept known as the rear-end collision doctrine.

Under this legal concept, Missouri courts generally assume the driver who rear-ends the other car in a rear-end collision is the party at fault. Behaviors that indicate a rear driver is liable for injuries in an accident include:

  • Driving distractedly, such as while eating, texting, or adjusting their GPS
  • Driving aggressively and tailgating
  • Following too closely, typically less than 2 to 3 car lengths
  • Speeding, especially in unsafe weather conditions like snow, rain, or ice

The only exceptions to this doctrine are instances where evidence demonstrates the driver in front caused the accident due to negligence.

When is the Driver in Front At Fault?

Per Missouri law, motorists owe one another the highest degree of care on the road. The front driver is at fault in a rear-end collision when they breach their duty of care toward the other driver. Typical situations where the driver in front is partially or entirely  at fault include:

  • Pulling in front of another vehicle abruptly—for example—when merging on the highway or switching lanes
  • Stopping suddenly or brake-checking a tailgating driver
  • Aggressive driving, such as swerving between lanes or speeding
  • Driving without turn signals or broken brake lights
  • Operating their vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Reversing into another car

How to Prove the At-Fault Party’s Liability in a Rear-End Collision

If you were involved in a rear-end collision you can take several steps to prove liability. The following actions can help you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries:

Seek Medical Attention Quickly

Even if you don’t feel pain immediately after the crash, it is critical to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. A common consequence of this type of car crash is a whiplash injury, also known as a neck strain.

X-ray scans or MRI tests can reveal whether you’ve sustained fractures, muscular tearing, or other, more severe injuries. Keep medical reports and documentation so you can submit them with your accident claim to prove the extent of your injuries.

Obtain Witness Statements and Police Reports

If law enforcement has responded to the scene of the accident, contact your local police precinct to obtain a copy of the police report. The details it contains can help you prove your case and determine the other driver’s liability.

If other drivers or pedestrians witnessed the accident, exchange contact information with them and request a witness statement. They can help you support your case.

Gather Photo and Video Evidence of the Scene

Additional evidence that can help you strengthen your case and determine liability includes photos of the accident scene after the crash, images documenting the extent of your vehicle’s damage, and pictures of your injuries. Video evidence, such as dash cam footage or video recordings from a witness, can be invaluable to prove the other driver was at fault.

Turn to Cofman Townsley After a Rear-End Collision in Missouri

A rear-end collision injury can affect your quality of life, finances, and relationship with your loved ones. Obtaining legal representation with the Missouri auto accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley can help you determine liability in a rear-end accident and seek compensation.

We have the resources and legal expertise to navigate Missouri law, help you collect evidence to build your case, and prove the other driver was at fault in your rear-end crash. Our skilled auto accident lawyers will fight on your behalf to obtain maximum compensation and, if necessary, represent your interests in a court of law.

Contact us today to schedule a free case review.