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How is fault determined in a rear-end collision?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Auto Accident Injuries |

If you are involved in a car crash, there is a one in three chance that it’s a rear-end collision. These crashes account for nearly 30 percent of the car accidents on American roads. If you are involved in a rear-end crash that is not your fault, you may be eligible for financial restitution from the liable party. 

To win your claim, however, you must show that the defendant was at fault. But this is often easier said than done. So, how is fault determined in a rear-end crash?

Establishing fault in rear-end collisions

As a rule, every motorist is required to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. As such, the driver who rear-ends the leading car is most often at fault to some extent. Of course, a safe distance is determined by a number of factors, like road conditions and vehicle speeds. 

That said, every motorist has a duty to drive safely. This means that the rear-ended vehicle can also be at fault under certain circumstances, such as:

  • When they abruptly brake for no valid reason
  • When, during an emergency like a flat tire, they fail to pull over or turn on their hazard lights
  • When they operate a mechanically faulty vehicle

Basically, these show that the lead vehicle failed in their duty of care to operate the vehicle safely. 

Modified comparative negligence and rear-end collisions

Oklahoma is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that the plaintiff’s damages are reduced based on their contribution to the accident in question. For instance, if you were the leading car, and it is established that you were 40 percent at fault (because you operated a car with faulty brake lights, for instance), then your damages will be reduced by this percentage. And if you were in the rear car, and it is established that you were following too closely or were distracted leading to the crash, then your damages will be reduced based on the judge’s assessment of your contribution. If you contributed 50 percent or more, then you will not be entitled to compensation.  

Establishing fault after a rear-end crash is never straightforward. Find out how proper legal counsel can help you safeguard your rights and interests while filing your car accident claim following a rear-end crash.