Accidents range from fender benders to devastating multi-car crashes. According to estimates provided by insurance companies, you’ll be in an accident about every 18 years. So if you start driving at age 16, you’ll most likely be in a crash by the time you’re 34 and two more by the time you reach 70.
Whatever the type of accident, you should never immediately assume that you are at fault. Even in rear-end collisions, where the trailing driver is at fault most of the time, there are exceptions. If you are the trailing driver in a rear-end crash and you believe that you are not at fault, you’ll need to prove that the driver in front of you was at fault either fully or partially.
Proving Fault in a Rear-End Accident
Proving fault in a rear-end accident can be a challenge. Here are a few scenarios in which the driver in front could be at fault:
- The driver in front of you reverses suddenly.
- The driver suddenly stops to make a turn and fails to execute the turn.
- The driver’s brake lights do not function.
- The driver gets a flat tire, but does not pull over and does not engage the vehicle's hazard lights.
In order to prove the driver in front of you is at fault, or at least shares the blame, you have to prove they were negligent.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is a word used in lawsuits to determine whether or not a person was behaving thoughtlessly or carelessly. As a driver, you agree to operate a car within a set of standards that keeps both yourself and other drivers safe on the road. Someone becomes negligent when they start doing something that could compromise another person's safety. A good example would be running a red light or driving over the speed limit.
Deciding if someone has been negligent requires the guidance of an expert lawyer. Together you can confirm whether or not the other person involved in the accident was adhering to the rules and regulations of the road or driving in a manner that was thoughtless and dangerous.
Have you been injured by a negligent driver? Bart Durham can help. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.
Is Tennessee an At-Fault State?
It's worth noting that Tennessee is an at-fault state. There are some states considered "no-fault," and that means if two people get into a car accident, they are covering the damages under their own insurance policy. The difference in Tennessee being a "fault" state is one driver is usually "responsible" for the accident. How that's determined is usually by the police officer who arrives at the scene and takes down the information. After collecting details about the accident, they will determine who is "at-fault." If you are considered to be the one at fault, then your liability insurance will kick in to cover the other driver's damages.
Why do you need to know all of this? Well, if you hit someone from behind, more than likely the police officer will tell you that you are at fault for the accident. But, sometimes the other driver behaves in a way that made it difficult for you to avoid the collision. We talk a little more about that next.
Ways to Prove the Driver in Front of You was Negligent
To prove negligence, you have first to prove there is a duty, which is pretty simple considering that a universal duty exists among drivers to operate a vehicle responsibly. Second, you have to show the other driver breached that duty. This means he or she made a decision that would not be reasonable in a given situation. If you get a flat tire, it is logical that you pull off the road, not continue to drive on the flat and potentially cause an accident.
Here are a few ways that you can prove a driver was negligent. If the driver
- failed to pay attention and look out for hazards on the road.
- failed to stop within a reasonable time.
- failed to drive at a reasonable speed based on speed limits and road conditions.
- failed to maintain control of the vehicle.
- failed to yield the right of way.
- failed to use a turn signal.
- failed to follow the car in front of them at a safe distance.
After proving the driver was negligent, you must also prove the breach of duty was the cause of the accident and then establish that the accident caused damages, either bodily injury or damage to the vehicle.
If you think a rear-end accident was not your fault, give us a call. We can talk through your case together.