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Who is Liable in a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end accidents are the most common type of car crashes. All it takes is a sudden traffic jam, a moment of distraction, or following too closely to send one car colliding into the back of another. Whether you’ve been in a minor “fender bender” or are facing life-changing injuries and medical bills following the accident, it’s important to understand who is liable in a rear-end collision.

Common Rear-End Accident Injuries

Rear-end accidents cause 29% of all car crash injuries. Being involved in this type of collision can cause many different injuries, ranging from mild to severe to lethal. Some examples include:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Bumps and bruises
  • Lacerations
  • Internal bleeding

Some rear-end collision injuries are apparent right away. Others don’t develop symptoms until later. That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately, especially if you plan to file a personal injury claim. You’ll need records of a doctor’s evaluation to help prove your injury was a direct result of the accident.

When the Rear Driver May be at Fault

As with many other states, New Jersey law requires drivers to leave enough space between vehicles. Failure to maintain a following distance of one car length per 10 mph of speed is considered negligence. As a result, the rear driver is most often declared at fault in rear-end accidents.

In addition to tailgating, other negligent acts that put the rear driver at fault include:

  • Following too closely during inclement weather
  • Texting while driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving recklessly
  • Becoming distracted
  • Speeding
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel

When the Front Driver May be at Fault

Sometimes, the front driver is responsible for being rear-ended—at least partially. This person may be found at fault under these circumstances:

  • Intentionally and needlessly slamming on the brakes
  • Driving very slowly for no reason
  • Failing to replace burned-out brake lights
  • Backing into another car
  • Cutting off another driver
  • Not signaling before turning

Comparative Negligence Standard

After being in a rear-end accident in New Jersey, obtaining compensation for your injuries can get complicated because of the state’s comparative negligence rule. In many cases, multiple drivers are partly to blame for the accident. Liability is assigned to each party as a percentage of the total fault. Under this New Jersey law, an injury victim can still recover compensation as long as their share of liability is less than 50%. The victim’s reparation is reduced the higher their level of fault.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you’re seeking compensation after being in a rear-end collision, please reach out to Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC for more information about your specific situation. Our New Jersey auto accident attorneys can help you receive fair payment for your injuries, drawing on decades of experience to ensure the outcome you’re hoping for. Contact us at 862-263-0770 today for a free consultation.

  • In 2020, we settled or won, at trial/mediation/arbitration, 112 personal injury cases. Our clients recovered over ten million dollars. Our firm set a record in 2020 by settling 15 cases for $200,000.00 or more. In the last eleven years, we have settled/won over one thousand cases and our clients have recovered over 100 million dollars.
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  • Results may vary depeding on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
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