Rear-End Collisions in Pennsylvania: Who is at Fault?
Following a motor vehicle accident, injured individuals may pursue compensation through a personal injury claim against the responsible party. A collision caused by the carelessness of another person provides an opportunity for the victim to recover costs for their past and future medical care, property damage, and lost wages from work, as well as other monetary damages. Rear-end collisions are a type of vehicle accident that takes place when the front end of one vehicle strikes the rear bumper of another, and the person responsible for causing a rear-end crash can be held legally responsible.
Rear-end accidents are not necessary “simple” legal cases in terms of proving fault, although it may appear that since the following car rammed into the front vehicle, that driver is at fault. Some rear-end collision lawsuits are complicated, requiring expert witnesses and accident reconstruction in order to effectively determine legal responsibility for the accident. One major cause of rear-end collisions is tailgating, or following too closely behind a front vehicle.
Pennsylvania’s traffic code includes a statute dedicated to the issue of tailgating. Titled “Following too closely,” this section of the vehicle code states: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
Like many states, Pennsylvania makes clear that drivers are to abide by the rules of the road, avoiding foreseeable harm to others. However, the vehicle code does not set forth a specific distance that is “reasonable” for following another car. There are general recommendations for drivers, such as maintaining four seconds of following distance on a dry road at high speeds.
The condition of the road plays a role in the speed of safely traveling vehicles, since ice and rain can require slower speeds. Additionally, drivers must adjust their speed and driving maneuvers for traffic on the road. A failure to heed these changes in road conditions can be deemed careless, and if a collision results from this potentially negligent behavior, the driver can be held liable.
It may be more difficult to prove, but if you are the driver of the rear car that was involved in a rear-end car crash, you may be able to show negligence, or carelessness, on the part of the driver of the front car. Perhaps they reversed into your vehicle or failed to maintain properly working brake lights. Another example of a situation in which the following driver may not be found at fault includes a “chain reaction” accident. These collisions involve three or more vehicles that collide when the cars in the middle are pushed forward by the force of the vehicles behind them. The driver who began the chain reaction would most likely be found at fault.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a rear-end collision in Pennsylvania, the car and truck accident attorneys at Needle Law Firm are ready to provide you with legal representation and guidance. Our experienced attorneys advocate on behalf of accident victims and their families throughout the state. We provide a no-obligation consultation and can be reached by calling 570-344-1266.