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Rear-End Accidents: Is the Car Behind Always At Fault?

Posted in Car Accidents on July 22, 2019

A rear-end collision is a common type of accident in Dallas. It happens often in slow-moving traffic when drivers fail to notice stopped vehicles in time to prevent collisions. Even a minor rear-end collision could cause serious and painful personal injuries, such as whiplash. Most drivers believe the rear driver is always at fault for a rear-end accident. Automatic fault, however, does not exist in rear-end car accidents in Texas. Instead, an investigation may be necessary to assign fault, as is the case after other types of car accidents.

Rules of Distance on Texas Roadways

The Texas Transportation Code’s Rules of the Road (section 545.001) lists regulations drivers must follow when operating vehicles in the state. One such rule is how much distance all drivers must reasonably keep between their vehicles and others. The accepted standard is a distance of at least one car’s length between each vehicle. Drivers should leave at least two to three seconds of open space between the fronts of their vehicles and the backs of others.

A driver in Texas could receive a traffic ticket for following too closely. It is most common to receive a ticket for this offense in the aftermath of a collision. The police could cite a driver for following too closely if this negligent behavior caused or contributed to the rear-end collision. In this case, the car behind would be responsible for causing the crash. Not all rear-end accidents, however, come down to the fault of the rear driver.

If passing, a driver must leave enough space between vehicles to safely occupy the destination lane. An unsafe lane change could result in a rear-end collision in two ways: the merging driver colliding with the back of a stopped vehicle or the merging car slamming on the brakes and causing the car behind to collide with its rear end. In both of these examples, the driver that made the unsafe lane change could be at fault for the accident – even if it was not the rear driver. Failing to give the rear vehicle enough time and space to hit the brakes could lead to responsibility for a rear-end accident.

Determining Fault for a Rear-End Collision

Fault may not be easy to assign in a rear-end accident case. The rear driver may dispute fault by alleging that the front driver or another factor caused the collision. Proving fault for any type of car accident may take an official investigation. The police can investigate the crash by analyzing the location and conditions of both vehicles, as well as taking measures such as interviewing people who witnessed the accident.

The car behind may be liable for the collision if its driver was guilty of negligence or recklessness that caused the crash. Common examples include distracted driving, drowsy driving, drunk driving and speeding. Someone who is texting and driving may not notice the vehicle in front has come to a stop. A speeding driver may be moving too fast for conditions, making it impossible to stop in time to avoid a collision.

The car in front could be responsible if the driver committed an unsafe lane change, cut another driver off, slammed on the brakes or contributed to the crash by failing to replace broken brake lights. Proving the front driver’s negligence may take a police report or a deeper investigation, such as a re-creation of the accident by crash experts. If you need to prove someone else’s fault for a rear-end accident in Dallas, hiring a car accident lawyer may be the best option.

A lawyer will have the resources to investigate your accident and assign fault to the correct driver. If you believe you did not cause the accident, especially as the rear driver, a factor you are not aware of might have contributed. Defective brakes, for example, may have prevented your vehicle from stopping as it should have. You or your lawyer will have to prove the other driver’s fault to claim damages under that driver’s insurance policy.