Who is At Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

You may assume that anytime you hit another driver from behind that you are at fault for the collision. This is not necessarily the case. Depending on the situation, the lead driver may be partly or fully responsible for the resulting accident.

If you have been in an accident, it is important that you speak with a Las Vegas car accident lawyer at Cloward Trial Lawyers. With years of dedication to our clients, we can help you determine who is at fault for your car accident.

Situations Where the Rear Driver Can be at Fault

A rear-end collision occurs when a driver crashes into a front vehicle. Many times, the rear driver may be found negligent for a rear-end crash for the following reasons:

  1. Following too closely (tailgating) or speeding – According to Nevada Revised Statutes §484B.127, a driver shall not follow another vehicle more closely “than is reasonable and prudent” given the speed of the other vehicles, the flow of traffic, and the condition of the road or highway
  2. Being distracted – Distracted driving comes in a variety of forms. If you are not giving your full attention to the road, you are a liability. Distracted driving can include anything from eating or drinking, checking your phone, or applying make-up while behind the wheel.
  3. Failing to Dim High Beam Headlights – According to Nev. Rev. Stat. § 484D.215, if a motorist is driving at night and is following another vehicle by closer than 300 feet, then they must dim their high beams. Failing to do so can result in a fine of $205.
  4. Speeding – A driver that is speeding will most likely be at fault for rear-ending the lead vehicle. Besides causing an accident, the driver is also violating the posted speed limit.
  5. Running a red light or stop sign – A driver that runs a red light or a stop sign is breaking the law. They will likely be found at fault for any resulting accident.

Situations Where the Lead Driver is at Fault

  • Driving Aggressively – If the lead driver is driving aggressively, then he or she may be swerving in and out of traffic, passing on the right, or cutting other drivers off. Any type of aggressive driving is prone to cause a crash.
  • Erratic Driving – If the lead motorist is driving erratically, then his or her actions are unpredictable. Erratic driving can include a wide array of behavior, from speeding, judgment errors, lack of attention, and changing lanes without proper notice.
  • Not Signaling – If the lead motorist is not using their turn signal to change lanes, then he or she can be found responsible for a rear-end crash.
  • Sudden or unnecessary braking – A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that the majority of rear-end collisions (59%) involve a stopped lead vehicle. If the lead vehicle suddenly stops, the rear driver may not be able to brake in time.
  • Broken brake lights – It is each driver’s duty to make sure that a vehicle’s brake lights are working. If the lead driver’s brake lights are out and the vehicle is hit from behind, then the lead motorist is responsible for the damage caused by the accident.
  • Suddenly backing up – Liability in any backing-up rear-end crash depends on which vehicle had the right of way, location (i.e., parking lot, highway, etc.), and witness testimony.

Nevada Modified Comparative Negligence

Nevada is a state that follows the modified comparative negligence rule. This means that if you are in an accident, you can recover damages as long as your percentage of fault is not greater than the other driver’s.

Let us examine a rear-end collision scenario. You are driving on a service road at dusk. The lead driver makes an erratic lane change, and you are not able to stop in time, colliding with their vehicle. You submit a claim for $5,000 to cover your medical expenses and $10,000 for the damage to your vehicle.

After the insurance company conducts its investigation, they find you to be 25% at fault for the accident. A witness at the accident scene, a pedestrian, testifies that you were using your high beams, causing an awful glare on the road.

In this scenario, damages awarded to you would be reduced by 25%. Instead of collecting the entire $5,000 on your medical costs claim, your award will be reduced by $1,250. Hence, insurance will only pay you $3,750 for your medical expenses.

Regarding your vehicle damage claim, your original $10,000 claim will be reduced by 25%, meaning that you will only collect $7,500.

Being partly at fault does not prevent you from recovering financially for your injuries. Rather, the claims adjuster must determine to what degree you caused the accident in order to compensate you fairly.

Contact a Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney

Whether you are the rear or lead driver in a rear-end collision, you need legal guidance. Cloward Trial Lawyers have experience helping people who have been in minor to serious collisions. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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