Who Is At Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

car accident scene after rear end collision

A rear-end collision can happen in an instant. What may appear to be a minor fender bender sometimes ends up being a life-changing event. In the case of a rear-end collision, the driver in the back is usually at fault, but that isn’t always the case. How is fault in a rear-end crash determined? Our car accident attorneys in Tampa explain.

Have you been injured in a rear-end collision? Contact us for a free case evaluation to see what your claim may be worth.

What Causes Most Rear-End Accidents?

Common causes of rear-end accidents include:

  • Not leaving enough following distance for the vehicle in front
  • Tailgating
  • Brake failures
  • Defective equipment, broken tail lights
  • Speeding
  • Failing to drive slow enough when the weather is bad
  • Hydroplaning in wet conditions
  • Sudden lane changes
  • Medical conditions and episodes
  • Texting while driving/distracted driving
  • Poor eyesight, driving at night
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Intentionally backing up

A rear-end accident commonly occurs when a driver stops on the road and the driver behind them doesn’t. There may be several reasons that a driver stops suddenly, including an animal or object in the street or even a routine stop for a traffic light. In general, the vehicle behind must leave enough following distance to react to the car in front of them.

Most rear-end accidents occur because of a violation of Florida Statutes § 316.08951. Under the law, a driver may not follow more closely than is reasonable and prudent. The driver must have due regard for vehicle speed and the conditions of the highway. Usually, when a rear-end accident occurs, the driver doesn’t leave sufficient following distance for the vehicle in front of them.

How Do You Determine Rear-End Collision Fault?

Determining rear-end collision fault requires all aspects of the accident to be taken into account. While it may seem like the driver in the back is always at fault, that is not always the case. Tailgating, poor judgment, and distracted driving can interfere with a driver following at a safe distance.

front hood of car smashed in after rear-end collision

However, there are some circumstances where the driver in front may be at fault. A driver who fails to signal before changing lanes or backs up on purpose after stopping may be held responsible for causing a crash. In addition, broken taillights can prevent the driver in the back from getting the signal that the other driver in front is stopping.

If you have been in a collision, avoid admitting responsibility until a full investigation has taken place. A rear-end crash requires a factual determination of legal liability and the appropriate compensation for victims. When multiple parties are at fault, the law apportions legal liability amongst all parties.

Have questions about a recent accident? Contact us today to see how we can help!

What Is a Typical Settlement for a Rear-End Accident in Florida?

Florida is a no-fault state, so minor rear-end claims typically settle under no-fault compensation. In a no-fault state, each party seeks compensation through their insurance without regard to fault. Payment typically covers up to 80% of medical care and 60% of lost income and caps out around $10,000 for no-fault benefits.

Rear-end crashes that result in qualifying injuries under Florida Statutes § 627.7372 may settle through a third-party claim. To qualify, the victim must have:

  • Significant or permanent loss of bodily function
  • Permanent injury
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Death

If the victim has injuries that qualify for a third-party claim, they may request coverage for economic damages, pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and other damages. The average settlement for rear-end car accidents should reflect the actual losses to the victim and the compensation categories available under the applicable law.

Related: Clearwater Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

What Are Common Injuries in a Rear-End Collision?

Common injuries in a rear-end collision are:

  • Whiplash
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Bruising
  • Internal bleeding and organ damage
  • Wrongful death

When struck suddenly from behind, victims often suffer from serious injuries. It’s essential to seek medical assistance even if you don’t have apparent injuries immediately following the accident.

Can You Be Compensated for a Concussion After a Rear-End Accident?

A concussion is a qualifying injury for compensation after a rear-end accident. A concussion may produce visible effects, or the victim may suffer from headaches, dizziness, and other internal injuries. Concussions are severe medical conditions and can be the basis for financial compensation.

A concussion is a common accident injury because of the sudden jolting of a rear-end accident. If you have suffered trauma, such as a concussion, due to a rear-end accident, documenting the injury is crucial. Medical records and expert testimony can be critical to proving the case.

Car Insurance Form

What To Do After a Rear-End Accident

After a rear-end accident, there are things that you can do to protect your rights and ensure you get the help you need:

  1. Call emergency services right away. If there is any chance of an injury, summon medical services. Remember, trauma may not always be apparent in the aftermath of an accident.
  2. Tend to injuries until someone with more advanced training can take over.
  3. Move vehicles away from traffic and secure your immediate safety.
  4. Take photos of the accident scene and damage to the vehicles, including both bumpers.
  5. Look for any causes that may have contributed to the accident, like weather conditions and road debris, and take photos.
  6. Gather names and addresses of witnesses.
  7. Get the license, vehicle, and insurance information of other drivers involved.
  8. Seek medical care and follow your treatment plan.
  9. Keep records of medical care, lost income, property damage, and other losses.
  10. Report the accident to your insurance company

Talk to a rear-end accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. An experienced rear-end accident lawyer can help you determine how to make a claim, what your claim may be worth, and help you understand how to determine fault and legal liability.

Let our team of experienced attorneys start working on your case. Call or send us a message today.


1FLA. STAT. § 316.0895(1) 2021

2FLA. STAT. § 627.737(2) 2021

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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