Who Is At Fault In A Rear-End Car Crash?
If you are driving on a road anywhere in King County, you are probably driving behind another car and being followed by yet another vehicle. It is typically the responsibility of the car behind to pay attention to what is going on with the motorist in front and adjust driving performance accordingly. However, there are times when the driver who is following another car does not have clear information from which to adjust driving behavior because of something the lead driver does or fails to do.
In congested traffic situations, circumstances can change quickly, requiring immediate action. Distraction or inattention for just a second or two can result in a serious car accident with significant injuries. At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, our Kirkland car accident attorney represents persons who were injured when rear-ended by another motorist.
Rear-End Car Crashes Cause Most Injuries
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), most of the non-fatal accidents between motor vehicles are rear-end crashes. Rear-end accidents can cause serious injuries but are less likely to result in fatalities than other types of collisions.
Non-fatal traffic accidents resulting in injuries:
- rear end – 44%
- angle – 39%
- sideswipe – 10%
- head-on – 7%
- other – less than 1%
Fatal traffic accidents:
- angle – 46%
- head-on – 28%
- rear end – 18%
- sideswipe – 7%
- other – less than 1%
Circumstances That Increase the Chances of Getting in a Rear-End Car Accident
Most rear-end accidents occur because someone is not giving the appropriate amount of attention to driving or driving conditions.
- Inattention – Distracted driving is becoming more common as people attempt to do any number of things – texting, eating, talking with passengers, and adjusting interior controls – that take their focus away from driving.
- Carelessness or impatience – Speeding and following too closely limit reaction time when the lead vehicle suddenly slows or stops.
- Lack of vehicle maintenance – A “lead” vehicle with brake lights or turn signals out may not communicate the driver’s intention to the following vehicle. A “following” vehicle with faulty brakes may not be able to stop in time.
- Weather conditions – weather conditions can affect vehicle performance and compound other contributing circumstances.
Determining Fault in Rear-End Crashes
Under Washington law, drivers must not follow other vehicles more closely than is ‘reasonable and prudent’ given the traffic conditions at the time. While following drivers are not automatically responsible when rear-end accidents occur, drivers determined to have been following a vehicle too closely will likely have responsibility for causing the crash.
But the fault for a rear-end accident may be apportioned between the following and the lead vehicles when the lead vehicle does something like failing to signal before changing lanes or applying the brakes without working brake lights.
How Fault Affects the Ability to Recover for Injuries From a Car Accident
If the person making a claim for damages in Washington has some contributory fault for causing the accident, the claimant is still allowed to recover a portion of their damages. The amount they can recover will be reduced by the same percentage as the amount of fault they are found to have. Establishing fault is an important issue that directly affects the amount of compensation a claimant is able to receive.
Rear-end car crashes happen a lot, can result in serious injuries and are usually the fault of the driver that is coming from behind. Even though insurance companies are aware of this, they can still be less than cooperative when it comes to paying claims for those injured in rear-end accidents. That is where the experience of someone skilled in negotiating with insurance companies can really make a difference in the amount of compensation awarded.
The Kirkland rear-end car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Joseph Rome has been helping injured clients throughout King County recover for personal injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents for more than 15 years. To schedule a free consultation with attorney Joseph Rome, call our office at 425-429-1729 or contact us via our website.