Determining Who’s Responsible
If you’ve been hit from behind by another motorist, you’re not alone. Statistics show that about a third of all motor vehicle accidents in America are rear-end collisions. It’s commonly believed that the driver of the trailing vehicle is always legally responsible. In most rear-enders, that’s the case, but it’s not always that cut-and-dried.
In a typical personal injury claim, including a car accident case, liability is determined based on the legal principle of negligence. Under the theory of negligence, all persons in society have a duty to engage in reasonable behavior at all times, given the circumstances. The law does not, however, identify what constitutes reasonable behavior. It leaves that determination to the trier of fact, typically the jury.
In a rear-end collision claim, the court and or jury customarily look at the actions of both parties to determine whether their actions were reasonable. With respect to the trailing driver, the trier of fact may look at these factors:
- Whether the driver maintained a reasonable distance behind the car in front in order to allow adequate braking, taking weather conditions into account;
- Whether the driver was unable to brake in time due to speeding;
- Whether the driver was paying attention to the road ahead or distracted by a phone, stereo, roadside attraction, or passenger; and
- Whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol or otherwise impaired at the time of the crash.
The actions of the front driver also may be taken into consideration:
- Was the car stopped in the road?
- Were there warning or brake lights not working on the car?
- Did the driver negligently put the car in reverse?
Contact Attorney Howard N. Sobel
At the Law Office of Howard N. Sobel, we work closely with people who suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident in New Jersey. Contact our office online or call us at 856-424-6400 to set up a free initial consultation (on selected cases). Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. Personal Injury claims are handled on a contingent fee basis.
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