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In a rear-end crash, who is typically at fault?

A rear-end crash may not have the same odds of leading to a fatality as a head-on crash. However, it can still lead to catastrophic injuries. If you’re a parent who is driving with children in the back seat, you also want to be aware of the increased danger they face in this type of accident.

On top of that, the rear-end crash is one of the hardest types to avoid. Often, you can do nothing at all. You may not see the other car coming, or you may assume they’re going to stop — as you wait at a red light, for example — and only realize they’re not at the very last second. Is the driver who hit you at fault?

What the law says

Typically, yes, the driver of a vehicle that rear-ends another vehicle is at fault. The reason is that all drivers have to leave enough of a following distance to stop in an emergency. Failing to do so puts the fault on them.

They may contest this. For instance, maybe you thought you saw a child running toward the street. You slammed on the brakes. The child turned and ran down the sidewalk, so there was never a real danger. However, the car behind you rear-ended your vehicle.

That driver may claim it was your fault for unexpectedly slamming on the brakes, but the law is clear. They needed a greater following distance and/or they needed to react more quickly to avoid the accident. They failed to do so. If you or a loved one was injured when your vehicle was rear-ended, you may be able to seek compensation from that driver.

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