Is the Rear Driver Always At Fault for a Rear-End Collision?  

A rear-end collision occurs when the front of one vehicle runs into the back of another. The rear driver is often found at fault for a rear-end collision since it is this driver’s responsibility to leave a proper amount of following distance between his or her car and the next vehicle. However, there are circumstances in which the rear driver may not be solely at fault.

When Is the Rear Driver At Fault?

Drivers are given a responsibility not to follow other motor vehicles “more closely than is reasonable and prudent” under Nevada Revised Statute Section 484B.127. This law requires drivers to take the speed of the other vehicle, the speed of surrounding traffic and the conditions of the road into consideration when determining a reasonable and prudent following distance. 

A general rule of thumb is to leave three cars’ lengths of space between two vehicles, or about three seconds of following distance. However, this distance may need to be increased in dangerous conditions, such as rain or fog. If a rear driver follows too closely (tailgates), drives while distracted, drives under the influence or makes other mistakes, he or she could be held responsible for a subsequent rear-end collision.

When Might the Front Driver Share Fault?

While rear-end collisions often result in the rear driver being held liable, or legally and financially responsible, for the damage, this is not always the case. In certain situations, the front driver could share fault with the rear driver.

Examples include:

  • Sudden lane change: the front driver makes an unsafe lane change, swooping in front of the rear driver close enough to cause an accident.
  • Brake-checking: the front driver abruptly and intentionally slams on the brakes without reason, often to warn the rear driver not to follow so closely.
  • Broken taillights or brake lights: the front driver’s vehicle lights are not functioning properly, making the rear driver fail to realize that the car is slowing down or has stopped.
  • Chain-reaction accident: the rear driver is a victim of a rear-end collision that propelled his or her vehicle into the front driver’s car.
  • Reversing: the front driver travels in reverse, either unintentionally or without checking for other vehicles before backing up.

Braking erratically, making unsafe lane changes and neglecting vehicle maintenance could all place liability for a rear-end collision with the driver of the frontmost vehicle. An investigation may be necessary after this type of accident to determine fault.

What Is Nevada’s Comparative Negligence Law? 

Nevada law allows multiple parties to share fault for an automobile accident. The comparative negligence law, Nevada Revised Statutes 41.141, states that a car accident victim can recover financially as long as he or she is less than 51 percent responsible for the accident. If two or more drivers are each allocated a percentage of fault for a rear-end collision, they may each be responsible for an amount equivalent to their degree of fault.  

If the rear driver is 40 percent at fault for failing to brake on time but the front driver is 60 percent at fault for abruptly changing lanes, for example, the rear driver would still be eligible for compensation since he or she is less than the majority share of fault. In this example, the rear driver’s financial compensation award would be reduced by 40 percent to match his or her degree of fault.

Rear-end collisions can lead to complicated personal injury claims. For assistance protecting your rights as a victim of a rear-end collision in Las Vegas, contact the Las Vegas car accident attorneys at Koch & Brim, LLP.