The rear driver is generally at fault in a rear-end collision. While there is still an investigation into what caused this type of accident, many people involved may assume the driver in the back was responsible. This could include law enforcement offices, others involved in the crash, witnesses, and insurance companies.
You will need evidence to prove the driver who hit you from behind caused the crash. However, the accident report and other proof will likely support this, which could make it easier to prove your claim.
What Causes Rear-End Crashes in Louisiana?
The causes of rear-end crashes generally include carelessness or recklessness on behalf of the rear driver. Examples include:
- Driving faster than posted speed limits
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Following too closely
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving, usually because of alcohol or drugs
It is generally up to the rear driver to follow all traffic laws that prevent these collisions. Following too closely, not paying attention to slowing traffic, or failing to stop in time because they were driving too fast on wet roads is no excuse.
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Proving Fault and Liability in a Louisiana Rear-End Collision
You will still need to show what happened to cause the crash, how the rear driver acted negligently, and the damages you suffered. This process will require you – or your lawyer – to investigate the accident and gather the necessary evidence to support your claim.
Some forms of evidence common in car accident cases include:
- The accident report the police filed, plus documentation of any citations issued
- Eyewitness interviews
- Video and photographs of the accident and scene
- A survey of the area where the crash occurred
- Accident reconstruction
- Expert statements
Our team knows how to identify and analyze additional evidence in your case, as well as prove your damages. This is vital for recovering a fair settlement based on the facts of your case.
Even if You Were the Rear Driver, the Accident May Not Be Your Fault
Most drivers assume that if a motorist hits them from behind, that motorist will be liable for any damages incurred. Although this is often the case, each auto accident is unique, and there are some exceptions to the presumption of guilt when determining fault in rear-end collisions.
In Anderson v. May, the Louisiana Court of Appeal stipulated that the motorist in the rear bears the burden of proving that he or she was not negligent. Thus, although it is presumed that the following motorist is liable for causing a rear-end collision, the court provides said motorist the opportunity to prove otherwise.
The driver who was in the back may be able to overcome the presumption of guilt by demonstrating that he or she:
- Had full control of the vehicle prior to the collision;
- Was fully aware of his or her surroundings;
- Had left a safe amount of distance between his or her own car and the vehicle ahead; and
- Could not have reasonably avoided the collision because of a hazard that the vehicle ahead created.
What Is the Sudden Emergency Doctrine?
All drivers have a duty not to behave in a way that puts other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians at risk. There are several ways a driver could breach that duty of care—for example, by speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Following too closely would also constitute a breach of this duty of care, which is why a driver would be liable for a rear-end collision if he or she was tailgating. In certain circumstances, though, motorists may not be able to avoid a rear-end collision.
When determining liability in such a scenario, the sudden emergency doctrine would come into play. This doctrine stipulates that motorists are not liable for resulting collisions if they come across an unanticipated hazard that they could not reasonably avoid.
For example, if you are traveling a safe distance behind a vehicle and it suddenly stops short but there is no shoulder for you to swerve onto, a collision is essentially inevitable. In this scenario, you may be able to use the sudden emergency doctrine to prove that you were not actually negligent.
You Can Sue for Injuries and Wrongful Death After a Rear-End Collision
The injuries suffered in rear-end collisions can vary from relatively mild to catastrophic. While people often think of rear-end crashes as minor, this is not always true. Some victims suffer severe injuries that leave them with chronic pain or disability.
In the most serious cases, the victim of a rear-end collision could die from their injuries. Louisiana law CC § 2315.2 allows immediate family members to seek compensation for their loss and related financial damages when this occurs.
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Recoverable Damages in Rear-End Collisions
After getting hurt in a rear-end accident, the financial recovery you pursue could include the costs you paid and the losses you experienced. These are known as your accident damages. Examples of the damages available in a typical rear-end crash claim include:
- Medical treatment
- Future medical needs
- Lost wages when you missed work
- Diminished ability to work and earn
- Property damages
- Rental car costs
- Additional expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death losses for surviving family members
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to File Your Louisiana Car Insurance Claim
It is possible for accident victims to handle their insurance claims on their own. However, this can be stressful and time-consuming. Working with our law firm lets you worry only about your treatment, healing injuries, and getting back to normal – or as normal as possible.
A car accident attorney from our team will be able to take steps on your behalf, including:
- Investigating your accident
- Proving your claim
- Protecting your rights
- Managing contact with the insurers
- Preparing and filing your claim
- Handling negotiations
- Suing the at-fault driver, if needed
- Presenting evidence at trial
- Representing your best interests
Our team represents clients based on contingent fee schedules, so we do not ask for any of your family’s money upfront. Instead, we receive a percentage of the financial recovery we secure on your behalf.
You may only have one year or less to take legal action, per CC §3492, so we invite you to reach out to our firm as soon as possible to learn how we may be able to help.
The Attorneys at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help
You can talk to a Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers team member for free today. We serve accident victims from our offices in Alexandria, Marksville, and New Orleans, as well as our main office in Lafayette.
You can discuss your case with a team member now. Our consultations are always free, and we represent rear-end collision victims based on contingency.