According to the Insurance Information Institute, rear-end collisions account for nearly 29% of all car accidents causing serious injuries. Additionally, rear-end collisions account for 7.1% of total fatal crashes in the United States. Rear-end collisions can cause devastating injuries, and they can also be complicated cases. Determining who is at fault in a rear-end collision is not as simple as many would think. In a rear-end collision, the back driver is often at fault but is not always at fault. In some instances, the front driver who is rear-ended may be partially or entirely at fault. In other cases, a third-party driver is at fault.
Who is at Fault in a Lynchburg Rear-End Collision?
To recover compensation in a car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff bringing in the lawsuit needs to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident that resulted in his or her injuries. A driver acts negligently when they fail to use reasonable care under the circumstances. Determining liability in Virginia can be challenging due to Virginia’s unique contributory negligence law. Most states use the doctrine of comparative negligence to determine who is liable in rear-end collisions and other car accidents.
Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the plaintiff who brings a lawsuit can obtain damages if they were partially at fault for the accident. The damages will be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault, as assigned by the court. In this scenario, a driver who was 20% at fault can still recover 80% of the damages.
Virginia’s Comparative Negligence Law
Virginia uses a different legal principle to determine fault, contributory negligence. Few states continue to use the contributory negligence law as many find the law unnecessarily harsh toward plaintiffs. Contributory negligence is much less forgiving to drivers who bear a small percentage of responsibility for the car accident. In Virginia, even if a driver is 1% at fault for a rear-end accident, they cannot recover any compensation from other drivers or companies involved in the accident. The contributory negligence rule becomes important in rear-end collision cases.
In Virginia and other contributory negligence states, the back driver only needs to prove that the front driver was 1% at fault for the accident to avoid paying compensation. When the back driver can prove the front driver was at fault, they can escape liability and financial responsibility for the front driver’s property damage or injuries. Virginia’s contributory negligence law makes working with an experienced rear-end collision attorney necessary for drivers seeking compensation. If you were the back driver, you would need an experienced attorney to prove that you are not at fault for the accident at all.
Scenarios Through Which a Front Driver May be Liable
Most people assume that the back driver is always at fault in a rear-end collision, and most of the time, that is true. If you were the back driver in a rear-end collision, you should not assume that you are not entitled to compensation without discussing your case with an attorney. The front driver may have been at fault in your case. In a few scenarios, however, the front driver may be partly or totally at fault for the accident, such as:
- The front driver makes a sudden lane change in front of the back driver and hits the brakes without warning.
- The front driver makes an unnecessary and abrupt stop, making it difficult for the rear driver to avoid a collision even if he or she was keeping a safe following distance
- The front driver was operating a vehicle was faulty brake lights, impairing the back driver’s ability to detect a sudden stopped
- The front driver had a flat tire or breakdown but failed to pull safely to the side of the road and activate his or her hazard lights
Evidence Needed to Prove Fault in Virginia Rear-End Collision Laws
When you work with Straw Law Firm after a rear-end collision, we will begin gathering evidence in your case immediately. Multiple types of evidence can demonstrate liability in a rear-end car accident. Sometimes rear-end car accident cases that are straightforward. For example, in most rear-end accidents, the accident itself is evidence that the driver in the rear failed to slow down and stop in time to prevent the collision.
When rear-end accidents are caused by driving while distracted, speeding, fatigue driving, or aggressive driving, the evidence of liability may not be as clear-cut. Unless a driver steps up and admits that he or she was at fault, the insurance companies or a Virginia jury may have to decide who was at fault and how to award compensation. Most rear-end accident claims are resolved by insurance adjusters who consider the police report and other evidence to assign fault. When we investigate rear-end car accidents, we look for all the following types of evidence:
- Debris at the crash scene
- The police accident report, which may include a diagram of the crash
- Statements from the drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Photos or video of the accident scene
- The vehicles’ black box event data recorder readouts
- Red light or security camera footage
- The drivers’ cell phone records which could prove distracted driving
- Social media comments by a driver or passenger about a car accident
- Roadside or roadway conditions that may have contributed to their car accident
- Evidence related to vehicle part recalls or failures
Contact an Experienced Lynchburg Car Accident Attorney Today
If you or your loved one have been involved in a rear-end accident in Lynchburg, Straw Law Firm is here to help. At Straw Law Firm, we will carefully review your case and advise you of all of your legal options. After a thorough investigation, we will negotiate aggressively on your behalf with the insurance adjuster, presenting evidence that shows that you are not at fault for the crash. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.