Is the Driver Behind Always Liable in a Rear-End Accident?

Rear-end collisions account for more than 25 percent of all auto accidents each year, making them one of the most common types of wrecks. While the trailing driver is often found at fault in rear-end accidents, that isn’t always the case.

Does Texas Have a Law Stating Who Is at Fault in Rear-End Collisions?

Texas law does not specify that the rear driver is always at fault. We do have a statute that requires drivers to maintain a safe following distance based on the speed of traffic, weather and other conditions, but the statute doesn’t assign fault. The goal of this law is simply to require drivers to follow at a distance that would allow a reasonable driver enough time to slow down or stop without hitting the car in front of them.

Can the Driver in Front Be Liable for a Rear-End Crash?

Contrary to popular belief, the driver in front could be at least partially at fault for a rear-end collision. For example, the leading driver could contribute to a collision by:

  • Suddenly changing lanes and cutting off the driver behind them
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Hitting the brakes when the trailing driver gets close (brake check)
  • Driving without properly working tail lights or brake lights
  • Merging onto a road and then failing to keep up with the speed of traffic
  • Coming to a stop in the middle of traffic
  • Backing out of a parking spot and into an oncoming vehicle

Assigning Fault and Getting Compensation for Injuries in Rear-End Collisions

Texas follows the law of modified comparative negligence, which means more than one party can be assigned a portion of fault in a wreck. Imagine that the driver in front was injured and files a claim. If the judge or jury (or insurance company) determines the leading driver’s fault was 0%, then the driver in front would get 100% of any damage award.

But, if the front driver was found 25% at fault, their award would be reduced by 25%. If the front driver is found 51% or more at fault, the driver in front is not entitled to compensation. This is known as the 51% rule.

If you were the trailing driver in a rear-end collision and you’re trying to prove the lead driver was at fault, you and your lawyer will need strong evidence. There’s often a presumption that the trailing driver was at fault. Powerful evidence like video footage from traffic cameras or dashcams is often needed to help overcome this presumption.

Talk to a Dallas-Fort Worth Attorney About Your Rear-End Collision

If you were hurt in a rear-end collision, whether you were the driver in front or behind, you should speak with a Texas lawyer about your potential legal options. At Ted B. Lyon & Associates in Dallas, our attorneys offer a free initial consultation so you can discuss the situation for no charge and get a better understanding of your rights. Get your free consultation by calling 877-Ted-Lyon / 877-833-5966 or contact us online anytime.