When it comes to a rear-end collision, there are exceptions, but most of the time, the driver in the rear will be found at fault and it will be their auto insurance that pays for it. In some states this is the law, and the driver who is rear-ended will never have to worry about their own car insurance being charged for the incident. Here’s how it works.
Keep a Safe Distance
The reason the rear driver is generally found to be at-fault is fairly simple: It is every driver's responsibility to ensure that they have enough space to safely stop should something happen on the road ahead.
Even if the driver in front of you slams on their brakes, you should be counting car-lengths so that you have all the time that you need to come to a safe stop and avoid a collision. The fact that you were following them too closely might place fault into your corner. More often than not, a rear-end accident is caused by a tailgater, and it will be the tailgater's car insurance that pays for the damages.
Comparative Negligence and Extenuating Circumstances
There are a number of scenarios where the driver who is rear-ended may be found to demonstrate comparative negligence. This doesn't always mean that the driver who was rear-ended is necessarily at-fault, but it may mean that the rear-ender's car insurance winds up paying you a lot less than you might expect. In other instances, it may be that neither of the drivers who were directly involved are solely responsible for the accident.
Some scenarios where this can happen may include the following:
- You were driving at night without functioning brake lights. In this case, the driver behind you had no way of knowing you were coming to a stop until you were already stopping.
- You were experiencing mechanical troubles and failed to move the car safely off the road.
- A third car set off the chain reaction that caused the accident, either by forcing the driver in front to stop suddenly, or by pushing the rear driver into the front driver. In this case the driver who was rear-ended still has a case against the driver who rear-ended them, but the rear-ending driver may make a claim against the driver that started the whole chain of events.
Most of the time, the driver in the front will make a claim against the driver behind them, and the rear driver's auto insurance will pay for the damages. But there are always exceptions, and car insurance laws and regulations are different in every state. Always let your agent explain the best way to proceed.
Also Read: In a Car Accident? Here's What to do.