Rear-End Accident Liability

In most cases, a driver who strikes a car ahead from the rear is presumed to be at fault in a rear-end collision. There are, however, exceptional cases in which the driver in front might be partially or completely responsible for the crash and the resulting injuries. The occupants of the car in the rear could be the victims in a rear-end crash if the car ahead:

  • Stops abruptly in traffic for no reason
  • Reverses suddenly
  • Has faulty tail lights, back-up lights, or brake lights
  • Makes an abrupt turn without signaling
  • Strikes an obstacle on the road
  • Brake checks the rear car
  • Causes a multi-vehicle pileup

Duty and Damages

The driver of each car has a duty to operate safely. If either driver breaches that duty and causes a rear-end wreck that injures the occupants of the other car, an injured victim is entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

If you’re an injured victim in the front car, the insurance company is likely to dispute your claim or offer you an unfairly low settlement, especially if your damages are major and your injuries severe. If you’re an injured occupant of the rear car, you might face a presumption of guilt and find your claim disputed or denied by the insurance company, which remains profitable by paying out as little money as possible in car accident claims. 

The Role of Your Attorney

Whether you’re injured in the front or the rear car, the services of a rear-end car accident attorney are highly recommended to get you the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer will:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the crash to prove the at-fault driver’s liability
  • Interview witnesses
  • Obtain footage from nearby video cameras
  • Check cell phone records for evidence of distracted driving
  • Utilize the testimony of expert witnesses and/or an accident reconstruction worker
  • Obtain “black box” data recorder info if you’re hit by a commercial vehicle
  • Organize and present your medical evidence persuasively
  • Evaluate your pain and suffering monetarily and demand a reasonable settlement
  • File claims against multiple defendants:
    • A state government agency if bad road conditions caused the crash
    • A manufacturer or repair service if faulty equipment was to blame
    • A trucking company, maintenance provider, or cargo-loading personnel if you’re injured by a commercial vehicle
  • Negotiate with the insurance company to get you fair compensation
  • Fight for you in court if your case should go to trial

Comparative Negligence

In some cases, the fault for a rear-end accident is shared among multiple drivers. Because South Carolina follows a comparative fault rule in personal injury cases, you may collect compensation for damages even if you’re partially at fault. Your award will simply be reduced according to your percentage of responsibility as long as it is no more than 50%. If, however, you are 51% or more responsible for the crash, you will collect nothing. To keep costs down, the insurance company will attempt to show you are more than half to blame for the wreck. 


Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.