Car Accidents

Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Car Accident?

...and more questions to ask

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident in the United States. According to the NHTSA, they make up 29% of all car accidents. This type of accident occurs when a car hits another vehicle from behind. Most of these accidents happen when the car in front is either stopped or moving very slowly.

Common causes of rear-end accidents

  • Distracted driving: If the driver in the rear car isn't paying attention, they may not realize that the car in front of them has stopped or slowed down. Texting is often a cause of driver distraction.
  • Tailgating: This happens when the rear driver is following too closely and doesn't stop fast enough when the car in front does.
  • Driver tiredness: A tired driver may have slower reflexes, or could fall asleep at the wheel.
  • Drunk driving: Use of alcohol or any drug that affects reflex time can lead to collisions.
  • Hazardous weather conditions: This could be a complicating factor in any of the above reasons, or it can be a cause all on its own.

Common injuries in rear-end accidents

Each accident is different, but there are some injuries that you're more likely to receive when you're in a rear-end accident. They include:

  • Whiplash: This neck injury occurs when your head is quickly jolted in one direction, then another. Many of the whiplash cases each year are the result of car accidents.
  • Back and spinal injuries: Often your entire spinal column is impacted in a rear-end collision, whether you're thrown forward towards the seatbelt or backwards into the seat. This can cause many different types of back injuries.
  • Brain injuries: The same motion that causes whiplash can make the brain hit the inside of the skull. This can lead to traumatic brain injury/TBI or a concussion.

How fault is determined

Many people assume that the driver in the rear car is always responsible for a rear-end accident. While it's true that the person in the rear car often causes the accident, it's not always the case. The person in the front car could also be responsible. Some cases where this might be the case include a car merging into traffic without enough space, a driver suddenly backing up, and a car with brake lights that aren't working properly.

Ultimately, as with any car accident, insurance companies may be the first party to assign fault. However, as insurance companies have a financial interest in placing blame on the other driver, there can often be disagreements. If that's the case, a judge or jury might be required to determine fault. An injury lawyer can help you navigate this process.

What to do if you've been in a rear-end accident

You might be shaken up, both physically and mentally, after a car accident. The first thing you should do is assess whether you or your passengers have been injured. Does anything hurt or feel out of the ordinary? Do you recall your neck snapping forward or your head hitting anything? Medical professionals may arrive at the scene; if they don't, you can call them. If no medical professionals were on the scene and you're concerned about an injury, go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Quick diagnosis and treatment could lead to better outcomes.

Your state may require you to immediately inform police of an accident. If you're not sure what your state laws are, err on the side of calling the police.

Do not admit fault. Immediately after an accident, you can't be certain whose fault it was. There may be extenuating circumstances you don't know about. Be honest and concise in your answers to the police. Only provide them with the information they ask for.

Contact an attorney as soon as you can; it's not too early to get in touch with a lawyer at the scene of the accident. Your attorney will be knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with rear-end collisions.

If you don't have an attorney, you can quickly have your case evaluated at The evaluation is free, and we don't get paid unless we win your case.

Don't worry if you didn't contact a lawyer immediately. In the U.S., you have at least a year (or more, depending on your state) to bring an injury lawsuit. That means you can contact a lawyer months after the fact about your case. If you're unsure what the statute of limitations is in your state, reach out to an attorney anyway. They'll be able to tell you whether you have a case, and many lawyers offer free consultations.

Keep track of all paperwork related to the accident, including anything issued at the scene and medical records and receipts. This can all be useful to your lawyer in determining your case.

Will I Need to Go to Court?

Many injury lawsuits are settled without the need to go to court. However, sometimes it's necessary. lawyers will walk you through this process, if need be. Rest assured that your injury lawyer will do what they can to avoid a court case unless they determine it's in your best interest to do so.


Rear-end collisions can be incredibly stressful, but a lawyer can make the process easier. Your attorney will walk you through the process step by step. You won't ever feel lost in the process, as you'll have an experienced guide showing you the way.

Get started right now at! It only takes a few minutes and you can do it all online.