3. when is the lead driver at fault in a rear-end accident?
In almost all cases, the rear driver is at fault for causing a rear-end collision for following too closely for conditions and not leaving enough room to stop safely.
On the other hand, in some rare instances the lead driver can be at fault for causing the car accident. If the lead driver fails to use reasonable care while driving, the lead driver will be responsible for any damages.
The lead driver could be deemed liable in a rear-end accident through negligence or reckless driving, including:
- Suddenly pulling out in front of another car;
- Braking suddenly;
- Reversing into a car;
- Road rage;
- Intentionally trying to get in an accident;
- Drunk driving; or
- Driving with broken brake lights.
4. Who is at fault if a driver in front brakes suddenly?
One of the most common causes of rear-end accidents is when a driver breaks suddenly, causing the rear driver to hit the vehicle ahead. The rear driver may try to put the blame on the front driver for braking suddenly, however, the rear driver may still be liable for the accident.
Illinois vehicle laws require that rear drivers leave enough room for cars in front of them to be able to stop if necessary. There is not a specific safe distance to follow another driver.
The road conditions will determine the safe following distance at the time. For example, a driver may may be required to adjust their safe traveling distance based on:
- Driving at night
- Wet road conditions
- Heavy vehicle weight
- Stop-and-go travel
- Gravel roads
- Soft brakes
Distracted drivers and following too close cause the majority of rear-end collisions.
The rear driver may try to place blame on the lead driver by accusing them of braking too suddenly, and the lead driver will accuse the rear driver of not paying attention to the road. Rear drivers may realize suddenly that the car in front has slowed or stopped suddenly after looking up.
Distracted Driving and Sudden Braking
Cell phones have been increasingly the lead cause of distracted driving. However, distracted driving can be anything that takes the driver's attention away from their surroundings, including:
- Switching the radio;
- Looking at maps;
- Mapping directions;
- Shaving or putting on makeup;
- eating while driving;
- Reading the newspaper;
- Watching a video;
- Adjusting the steering wheel or the seat; or
- Lighting a cigarette.
The rear driver will be considered negligent if not keeping a safe following distance, speeding, or driving while distracted. However, the front driver can be considered to have caused the accident or partially responsible for the accident if found to be negligent.
A lead driver could be considered liable for causing a rear-end collision where the driver:
- Operated his vehicle with a broken brake lights;
- Intentionally slamming on the brakes to try and get hit for insurance fraud; or
- Slammed on the brakes recklessly due to road rage.
5. Who is at fault if a driver pulls out in front of traffic and gets hit?
Determining fault when a driver pulls out in front of a driver can be complicated. The driver who pulled out into traffic could be at fault, and the driver who failed to stop in time could also be at fault.
The at fault driver will be determined based on the specific facts of the case, including:
- The speed of the vehicle,
- Road conditions,
- Failing to signal for turns and lane changes,
- Traffic signals,
- Lane markings, and
- Other factors.
If the rear driver is driving recklessly, speeding, or distracted, the rear driver will be liable for the accident. If the other driver suddenly, without signaling, pulls out into traffic across multiple lanes, the driver who is rear-ended could be at fault for the accident.
Left Turns, U-Turn, and Right-of-way
Another cause for rear-end accidents could be another driver turning left suddenly in front of oncoming traffic, or making an illegal U-turn. If a driver intends to make a left turn or a U-turn, it is their responsibility to yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles approaching from the opposite direction until the turn can be made safely.
If a driver wants to make a left turn or a U-turn, the driver must make sure no oncoming vehicles are close enough to be considered hazardous. If a driver makes a left turn without yielding and is hit by another vehicle, the driver turning may be held liable for damages and injuries.