You are driving down the road at a reasonable speed when, all of a sudden and without warning (i.e., you do not see any brake lights nor any other indication of slowing down), the car in front of you comes to a halt and you collide with its rear end. You may automatically assume – as may the police who respond to the accident, as well as the other driver – that you are at fault for the accident. However, there may be more at play than meets the eye, and the fact that you did not notice the driver slowly down may be essential when it comes time to file a claim.
There is no statute regarding rear end collisions and who is at fault when a rear end accident happens in Indiana. Instead, the law requires, in essence, that all drivers operate their vehicles responsibly. As such, there are some cases in which a rear driver is not the party who is at fault for a rear end accident.
Who Might Be at Fault in a Rear End Accident?
Sure, there are dozens of instances when the rear driver is the one at fault in a rear end crash, most often because the driver in the rear is following too closely or is distracted. However, other parties who may be at fault include:
- The driver in front if the driver stops in a negligent and unsafe manner without reasons or cause.
- The driver in front if the driver knew that their brake lights were out and yet failed to have them repaired, thereby operating their vehicle in violation of the law and making it difficult for the other driver to know that the vehicle was slowing down (this is especially true in early morning hours or in the nighttime, when the sun is down and lighting is poor).
- The driver in front if the driver performed an unsafe or illegal maneuver, such as changing lanes in front of the rear driver without providing the rear driver an appropriate amount of space.
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle part. Sometimes, car accidents – including rear end collisions – are caused because something in the vehicle stops working. Perhaps the vehicle in front just turned off, or perhaps the vehicle in the rear tried to brake, but could not due to defective brakes.
Who is at fault in a rear end collision is not always cut and dry; oftentimes, finding out who is at fault takes serious investigative work.
The bad news is, however, that your insurance company may try to blame the rear end collision on you if you were the rear driver, based solely on the fact that rear drivers are the vehicles who are most often at fault. To help you to prove that the accident would not have occurred but for the fault of another party, you need an experienced car accident attorney who will advocate for you.