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Rear-End Car Accidents

A rear-end car accident is one of the most common types of motor vehicle collisions reported in Pennsylvania. If you get involved in a rear-end accident, you may be confused regarding where to seek financial compensation for your medical bills and property damage. According to Pittsburgh car accident lawyers, the answer depends on the circumstances of your rear-end collision and your type of car insurance.

What Is a Rear-End Car Accident?

A rear-end car accident is when one vehicle strikes another vehicle from behind. In most rear-end collisions, the front driver is stopped or traveling at a slow speed and the rear driver strikes at a higher speed. The force from the impact can cause injuries such as whiplash, broken bones and soft-tissue damage to the occupants of either vehicle. 

What Causes Most Rear-End Car Accidents? 

Rear-end collisions are typically avoidable if both drivers involved are cautious. They are most often traced back to driver errors, such as: 

  • Following too closely
  • Tailgating due to road rage
  • Distracted driving
  • Texting and driving 
  • Driving while drowsy or fatigued
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Speeding
  • Brake-checking (abrupt braking)
  • Making unsafe lane changes
  • Poor vehicle maintenance

Rear-end car accidents can also be caused by low visibility conditions, such as rain or fog, and dangerous road hazards that cause drivers to brake suddenly, such as potholes or debris.

Who Is Usually At Fault for a Rear-End Car Accident?

The driver of the rear motor vehicle is typically found to be at fault for a rear-end car accident. This is due to the fact that the rear driver has a responsibility to maintain an adequate following distance, pay attention to the road and obey all traffic laws while driving, including speed limits. If a rear driver is tailgating or not paying enough attention, he or she may crash into the front driver’s car when it slows down or stops.

The Statutes of Pennsylvania Section 3310 states: (a)  General rule.–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. This law places an obligation on all drivers to leave enough following distance to reasonably be able to brake and avoid a collision in response to changing roadway situations.

However, there are circumstances in which the front driver may share fault for a rear-end collision. If the frontmost driver cuts the rear driver off, makes an unsafe lane change, brakes suddenly or erratically, intentionally brake-checks the rear driver, or fails to properly maintain the vehicle, the front driver could share responsibility for the crash.

What to Do After a Rear-End Collision 

Pennsylvania is a “choice” no-fault state. This means your legal options after a rear-end car accident will depend on whether you purchased limited tort or full tort car insurance. With limited tort insurance, you may only sue another driver for causing your accident if you suffered serious injuries. Full tort insurance allows you to hold another driver responsible for your crash with any level of damage. 

If you get involved in a rear-end collision in Pennsylvania, report it to the police to get an accident report. Seek medical care for your injuries without delay. Do not admit fault for the accident, even if you are the rear driver. Before you begin the insurance claims process, contact a Pittsburgh car accident attorney for advice. A specialized personal injury attorney in Pittsburgh can help you understand your options based on your insurance policy to help you optimize your financial recovery.

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