Who is Liable in a Rear End Collision?

Whether you were the lead vehicle or the rear vehicle in an accident, this is probably your first question. You may automatically assume that the rear vehicle is the one at fault. But the real answer is, “it depends.”

Missouri and Kansas require drivers to keep a safe distance in front of them. This allows time and distance in case the driver in front slows down or has to stop in response to something in front of them.

Like any type of car accident, the negligent person is generally held responsible. The ultimate answer lies in discovering who was negligent or at fault for the accident. Rear-end accidents can cause drivers and passengers in both vehicles to be hurt, causing injuries such as neck and back injuries, as well as long-term medical bills and rehabilitation expenses.

How They Happen

Drivers should always keep a safe distance to avoid  a rear-end collision. These accidents can happen for many reasons, including:

·      Tailgating, or following too close

·      The front driver stops too short

·      Non-working brake lights or other vehicular malfunction

·      Distracted driving, such as texting while driving

·      Driving under the influence, where either driver isn’t coherent enough to drive

Rear-end collisions can be dangerous and leave both parties with serious injuries.

The Rear-End Collision Doctrine

This is a rule in Missouri that presumes that the rear driver is responsible for a rear-end collision. The rule establishes that all drivers must be in control of their vehicles at all times and removes the requirement to show that the rear driver failed to exercise their duty of care.

If this thinking is applied, then the rear driver is tasked with demonstrating that they exercised their duty of care and prove that they were not at fault.

When The Rear-End Driver Is Not At Fault

We can not automatically assume though that the rear-end driver is at fault. Lead drivers may not be driving in a attentive and responsible manner. Some slow down or sudden stops are not the driver's fault, due an unexpected obstacle in front of them or another vehicle doing something that causes the driver to maneuver to avoid hitting the other vehicle. However the front driver may be at fault or partially at fault if they did not allow for enough room or time to stop.

Insurance companies are notorious for pinning blame on the rear-end driver and will use this as excuse for not paying claims. But a front driver may be responsible if:

·      Their brake lights aren’t working and signaling other drivers of an impending slow or stop

·      Cutting in front of another driver when changing lanes, leaving the other driver too little time to stop

·      “Brake checking,” or hitting the brakes when a driver is too close

·      Suddenly reversing without warning

·      Slowing down or stopping as if to make a turn but then doesn’t turn

All of these behaviors can cause the accident.

By the way if hazardous road conditions were the ultimate cause of the accident, neither driver may be responsible. In this case, the municipality responsible for the road hazard would be the party at fault.

Kansas City Car Accident Attorney

Since 1918, The Popham Law Firm has helped hundreds of people in many accident types, from simple fender benders to accidents involving injuries and property damage. We'll be happy to review your case and let you know if you have one and how to proceed. If you are being blamed for causing the accident, you may need an attorney from the Popham Law Firm to take up your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (844) 243-2288 or use our online contact form to get started.


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