It is often said that the rear driver must be at fault for an accident. This is because drivers have an obligation to keep a safe distance between vehicles. Tailgating is illegal. If a driver does not leave enough space to stop or react in time, then they may be rightfully accused of causing an accident.
For instance, if someone is tailgating when the light turns yellow, they may decide to speed up to try to make it through before the red light. But the driver ahead of them may simply decide to do the safe thing and slow down to stop at the light. This can cause a rear-end accident that was clearly caused by the following driver, who was driving too close and breaking the speed limit.
It’s also important for drivers to know that they need to leave space to react in the event of something unexpected. For example, maybe a child or a dog runs into the street. A driver who sees this may slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. Someone behind them may hit them and say it was the front driver’s fault for braking so aggressively, but it is very rare that it would actually be that driver’s fault. The following driver has to anticipate these kinds of events and leave themselves a three-second gap, at the minimum, so that they can stop in time.
The rear driver is not always at fault
It is also true that there are rare exceptions to the general rule that a rear driver is either at fault for a crash or bears some liability for one that occurs. For example, perhaps the driver in front is impaired by alcohol or drugs. They could be assigned the fault for the accident if they were driving erratically as a result. Or, the driver in the front could decide to “brake check” the driver behind them. Brake checking is an aggressive form of driving where the person hits their brakes for no reason at all and could cause the front driver to be held liable for any harm that results from an associated crash.
Seeking financial compensation
If you’ve been involved in an accident with someone who is driving recklessly or negligently, you may have suffered severe injuries. Take the time to look into all of your rights to seek financial compensation for medical bills and other costs, regardless of whether you were the lead or follow driver in your particular situation.