The rear driver is generally at fault in a rear-end collision. While the police and involved insurance companies will still likely investigate what caused the accident, the rear driver is usually liable because drivers are expected to leave adequate space between their vehicle and the vehicles in front of them. When they don’t, a rear-end collision may happen.
You will still need evidence to prove the driver who hit you from behind caused the crash. However, the accident report and other evidence will likely support this, potentially making 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
- Driving under the influence 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
To obtain compensation, you will need to show what caused 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 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 and prove your damages. This is vital for recovering a fair settlement based on the facts of your case.
When Is a Rear-End Accident the Lead Driver’s Fault?
While most rear-end accidents are caused by the rear driver following too closely or being distracted, there are times when the lead driver is at fault. All drivers are expected to exercise reasonable care on the road, so being in front does not absolve lead drivers from the responsibility of preventing a car accident.
A lead driver could be liable for any damages if they acted in a way that led to the rear-end collision. Negligent or reckless actions of a lead driver could include:
- Suddenly pulling out in front of another vehicle without enough space to do so
- Stopping suddenly
- Reversing into another vehicle
- Road rage
- Intentionally trying to get hit
- Intoxicated driving
- Driving with broken brake lights
Even under the above circumstances, where the lead driver’s actions appear to cause a rear-end accident, the rear driver may still bear the blame. That is because drivers in the rear are responsible for paying attention and leaving enough distance between themselves and the front driver to stop safely.
So, even if the lead driver brakes suddenly, the rear driver may be partially at fault if they weren’t following at a safe distance, which contributed to the collision.
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 Appeals stipulated that the motorist in the rear bears the burden of proving that they were 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 they:
- Had full control of the vehicle before the collision
- Were fully aware of their surroundings
- Had left a safe amount of distance between their car and the vehicle ahead of them
- Could not have reasonably avoided the collision because of a hazard that the vehicle ahead of them 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, so a driver would likely be liable for a rear-end collision if they were tailgating. In certain circumstances, though, motorists may be unable to avoid a rear-end collision.
When determining liability in such a scenario, the sudden-emergency doctrine would come into play. According to the Legal Information Institute, 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 may be inevitable. In this scenario, you may be able to use the sudden-emergency doctrine to prove that you were not actually negligent.
Both Drivers Could Be At Fault in a Rear-End Collision
In some circumstances, you and the other driver in a rear-end collision may share the fault.
If both the trailing driver and the lead driver are partially to blame for the car crash, both can be found negligent and liable for damages in the accident. Louisiana’s shared fault law is provided in CC Art §2323. The state follows the pure comparative negligence rule.
Under this law, if a person is partially responsible for a personal injury accident in which they suffered losses, the compensation they receive will be reduced in proportion to their percentage of the fault.
For example, in a rear-end accident, if the lead driver stopped suddenly but the trailing driver did not leave a safe distance, both parties could be found equally negligent. In this case, each party may only be able to recover 50% of their damages because each was 50% responsible.
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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, a rear-end collision victim 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.
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 typically 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 a living
- Property damage
- Rental car costs
- Additional accident-related expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death losses for surviving family members
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to File Your Louisiana Car Insurance Claim
Accident victims can choose to handle their insurance claims independently. 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 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 and presenting evidence at trial, if needed
- 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.
A Record of Success Recovering Over $600 Million
Our law firm has helped many individuals and families recover compensation through cash settlements and court verdicts. We are advocates for the injured, and our Louisiana car accident lawyers want to fight for you the way they have for our previous clients. Our track record of success includes results like the following:
- $2,000,000 for a victim who suffered spinal cord injuries in an auto accident
- $410,000 for a client who was hit from the rear by a commercial truck
- $375,000 for a victim who suffered back injuries due to a car accident at an intersection
- $1,200,000 in a trial verdict for motorcycle accident victim
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, New Orleans, and 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.