It may not be who you think. Naturally, one may assume that a driver who rear-ends another driver is at fault. Nevertheless, North Carolina law requires the certain circumstances to be considered in the liability analysis.
The Reasonable Driver Assumption
While the following motorist may assume that the preceding vehicle is being driven with care and caution, he must drive at an appropriate speed and must maintain an interval between the two vehicles as would enable him to avoid a collision with the preceding vehicle under circumstances which should be reasonably anticipated.
In other words, the driver who rear-ended another car cannot just assume the car in front is being driven with care, and instead, must show that they had maintained an appropriate speed and distance from the car in front of them under the circumstances. The key word being “circumstances” here. What a court may determine to be an appropriate distance from the car in front can vary significantly depending on weather, road conditions, and the types of vehicles involved. The short answer is that a driver should be reasonably cautious and set a distance that would allow them to avoid a collision.
Assuming that you left a reasonable gap between you and the car in front of you under the conditions, what more must you prove?
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The Circumstances Surrounding a Rear-End Collision Matter
Again, circumstances matter. On a busy interstate, if the person in front of you suddenly slams on their brakes, there’s a good chance there may be no place to go to avoid a collision. In North Carolina, applying contibutory negligence to as many cases as they can, insurance companies may be tempted to argue that the driver that rear ended the other should have been looking out, was driving too closely, or should have swerved to avoid the collision, all excuses we have heard from insurance companies before, but regardless of what they argue, we seek to hold negligent drivers and their insurance companies responsible for the damage caused by a negligent driver.
In summary, facts, circumstances, and case law can all play a role in determining fault, and something as simple as a rear end collision can be far more complicated than it seems.
If you were injured due to another driver’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer at Tien Law Firm, PC. We can evaluate your case, gather evidence, prepare your claim, and handle settlement negotiations on your behalf. Call 888-988-6613 to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options.