Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision in Pennsylvania?

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Accidents involving a rear-end collision can be challenging for all parties involved. It can be difficult for the victim to suffer through their physical injuries, as well as other consequences such as damaged property or lost wages. It can also be difficult for people involved to figure out who is at fault for the accident, and to what degree.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident involving a rear-end collision, the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm can help make sure that you are either fairly compensated, or that you have a good defense against any charges of fault.

Pennsylvania’s No-Fault Insurance Rules

Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” insurance state, which has an impact on how fault is determined in rear-end collision accidents. Most states are “fault” states, which means that the driver at fault during an accident is responsible for paying expenses incurred during the accident by other parties. These costs may include costs connected to personal injuries from rear-end collisions, as well as property damage costs. However, as a “no-fault” state, Pennsylvania determines that all parties are entitled to collect compensation, regardless of fault.

To complicate things further, Pennsylvania drivers can choose the degree to which another driver is held accountable during an accident while buying insurance. When purchasing insurance in Pennsylvania, buyers are able to choose whether they would like to have limited tort or full tort. With limited tort, a driver opts into the no-fault system and is unable to file a lawsuit for compensation for physical damages or lost wages. They will instead file a claim with their insurance company, which will cover any expenses they have. Purchasing full tort, on the other hand, means that the buyer has not opted into the no-fault system and are able to file a lawsuit against the other party in order to receive compensation from the at-fault driver.

Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision Lawsuit

As a no-fault state, Pennsylvania usually rules that the rear driver (not the lead driver) is at fault in insurance cases. The same thing is usually assumed during lawsuits. The rear person is assumed to be at fault, assuming that they’ve gone against standard traffic practices that ensure safety. Essentially, it’s assumed that most rear drivers in rear-end collision accidents are either speeding, driving too close to the car in front of them, or that they were driving while distracted by texting.

However, there are some cases that assume the fault of the person in front, or that presume the fault of neither or both parties. It’s generally assumed to be the front person’s fault if they were driving with faulty brake lights, if they reversed out of a parking space or driveway without properly checking what was behind them, or if they changed lanes suddenly and without warning.

Neither party is assumed to be at fault if there is poor visibility and/or bad weather conditions (snow, ice, etc.) or if there is an unexpected road hazard or animal crossing (such as a deer). In some cases, the rear-end collision might be the fault of a third party. This may be the case if there are faulty or defective road conditions, such as inadequate lane closure warnings. In such a case, the accident will be the fault of the city or state that didn’t warn drivers properly. If the rear-end collision happens because of faulty brakes, then the case becomes a product liability case and you should seek the help of a lawyer.

Also, cars that are involved in a chain collision crash are typically not found to be at fault in rear-end collisions. A chain collision crash is a crash that involves three or more cars, with the rear car pushing the second car, which pushes the next car and so on. The middle cars are rarely found to be at fault in these situations.

How a Lawyer Can help You After a Rear-End Collision 

In the wake of a rear-end collision accident, a lawyer can help you by ensuring that police did a proper and thorough job of investigating the scene following the accident. After most car accidents, police make a report of the accident that includes observing physical evidence, taking measurements and photographs, and interviewing witnesses, passengers, and drivers. A lawyer can make sure that the investigation was done fairly. A lawyer, after a rear-end collision accident, can also work with experts to make sure that all of the evidence involved is acceptable in an attempt to prove fault fairly.

A lawyer can help establish the four elements of negligence that are necessary to prove negligence on the part of another party, if they are at fault. (These elements are necessary for all cases involving negligence, including car accidents.) These elements are duty, breach, cause, and harm.

Pennsylvania Rear-End Collision Lawyer Offering Free Consultations

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision in the Philadelphia area, get in touch with the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm as soon as possible to get knowledgeable advice. Schedule a free consultation to get answers to all of your questions about rear-end collisions. Call our offices at (215) 515-8351 or visit our website for more information today.

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