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Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

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Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

When a rear-end collision occurs, you might assume that the vehicle in the back is automatically to blame. While the driver in the back is often to blame for a rear-end collision, it isn’t necessarily always the case. If you’re in a rear-end accident, it’s important to work with a team of car accident lawyers to consider all of the facts and circumstances to determine fault.

Is the Driver in the Back Always to Blame for a Rear-End Accident?

No, the driver in the back is not always to blame for a rear-end accident. All drivers must leave enough following distance for the person in front of them, so the driver in the back is often at fault for a rear-end collision. However, there are some circumstances where the front driver is at fault like backing up after stopping, broken tail lights, and other poor driving behavior. The location of the damage can also be helpful in determining questions of fault.

Colorado Law 42-4-1008: Following Too Closely

An investigation into any rear-end collision begins with an evaluation of Colorado law 42-4-1008. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 42 gives the list of Colorado’s traffic laws. The law requires all drivers to leave sufficient following distance for the vehicle in front of them. The law says that a driver shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent. The driver must take the speed of the car in front of them and the condition of the highway into account when they set their following distance.

Denver Rear End Crash

Every driver must leave enough distance to react to changing circumstances on the road. If a vehicle stops suddenly, the vehicles behind them must adjust. If the weather is bad and the roads are slick, the driver must increase their following distance accordingly. When a rear-end collision occurs, it’s often because the back driver didn’t leave enough following distance.

Are Following Too Closely Laws the Same in Every State?

No, following too closely laws are not the same in every state. Some states require drivers to leave enough following distance that they’re able to come to a full stop at any moment on the road. In those states, if the vehicle in front of them slams on their brakes, the vehicle behind them must be able to fully stop, too, no matter what.

That isn’t quite how Colorado’s following too closely law is worded. Colorado’s law just requires each driver to leave sufficient following distance. The Colorado law seems to leave room for the fact that there may be situations where the driver in the back isn’t always at fault for a rear-end accident.

What Driver Is at Fault for a Rear-End Accident?

The driver in the back may be at fault for a rear-end accident in any of the following circumstances:

  • Texting while driving
  • Failing to keep their eyes on the road
  • Speeding
  • Drunk driving; driving under the influence of drugs
  • Tailgating
  • Failing to properly maintain the vehicle and perform proper maintenance
  • Reckless driving
  • Multiple vehicle pile-up accidents

The driver in front may be at fault for a rear-end accident in any of the following circumstances:

  • Slamming on the brakes for no reason or when it’s inappropriate
  • Impeding traffic by driving at a very slow pace without reason or when traffic conditions don’t justify it
  • Failing to keep brake lights or other equipment in good working condition
  • Stopping suddenly to turn but failing to make the turn
  • Failing to leave the road when they experience car trouble
  • Leaving the vehicle in the road without turning on hazard lights
  • Accelerating in reverse
  • Fraud; causing a crash intentionally
  • Multiple vehicle pile-up accidents

Rear-End Collisions and Driver Fraud

Some rear-end collisions occur because of fraud and intentional actions. Some drivers cause crashes on purpose to make insurance claims or bring lawsuits. For example, two drivers might work together to box in the target driver. Then, the driver in front slams on their brakes. Often, the front vehicle is packed with passengers. All of the passengers make claims for damages including inflated amounts for pain and suffering.

Intentionally backing up is another way that a driver may purposefully cause an accident. When you’re stopped at a light, they may back up to hit your vehicle and then blame you for the damage. Driver fraud is something to be aware of as a possibility when you’re in a rear-end collision and a great reason to report all car accidents to the police.

Following Too Closely and Comparative Negligence

Rear-end accidents often involve comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is the idea that more than one party can be at fault for an accident. For example, the vehicle in front might slam on their brakes quickly to turn while the vehicle in the back is speeding too fast to react in time. In a situation like that, both drivers share some blame for the accident. Since Colorado is an at-fault state for car accidents, it’s important to carefully examine issues of fault.

When two or more drivers are to blame for the accident in some way, any driver who is not 50 percent or more at fault may still bring a claim for compensation. The amount that you can win is reduced to account for the fact that you contributed to the accident. It’s up to the finder of fact; usually, the jury, to decide exactly how much you’re to blame for the crash. However, an experienced attorney can usually still help you negotiate a fair settlement without taking your case to trial while still meeting Colorado’s statute of limitations for car accidents. Your attorney can help you evaluate all of the circumstances to determine the likely outcome of your case and what to expect in terms of a settlement.

How Can a Denver Following Too Closely Accident Attorney Help Me?

Have you been in a rear-end accident? Are you wondering if you have a way to recover financial compensation? Our attorneys can help.

Our team of Denver accident attorneys fights for our clients every day. We handle following too closely accident cases that are both simple and complex. We turn over every stone and take every step to fight for you until you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries after a car accident.

It isn’t easy being an accident victim. Don’t make assumptions about your case or give up. Let our team of professionals give you an informed opinion about your case and tell you about your options. There’s no cost to speak with our legal team, and your call is confidential. Call us today.

Related Reading:

Car Accidents Involving Leased Cars

What To Do If You’re In A Car Accident In A Company Car?

What Happens If You Leave The Scene Of A Car Accident?

Colorado Ride-Share Guide: Uber & Lyft Laws

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Super Lawyers - Kyle Bachus
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
Super Lawyers - Darin Schanker
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyer
5280 Top Lawyers of Denver