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 have been involved in a car accident involving a rear-end collision, the lawyers at our firm can help ensure that you are either fairly compensated or that you have a good defense against any charges of fault. While the driver who struck from behind is usually blamed, our team knows that the issues might not be that simple. With new types of technology, it is possible to show that the leading driver was actually the cause of the accident.

    Contact The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for your free case review with our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys.

    Determining Fault in a Pennsylvania 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 driving while distracted by texting.

    However, some cases assume the fault of the person in front or 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 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 might be the case if 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 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.

    What is the Rear-End Statute in Pennsylvania?

    In Pennsylvania, the state’s laws regarding rear-end collisions can be found in Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Specifically, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3310(a) lays out the rules for following too closely on the road. According to the statute, drivers are prohibited from following another vehicle more closely than what is deemed reasonable and prudent. This requirement is based on various factors, including the speed of the vehicles involved, the traffic conditions, and the overall state of the highway.

    75 Pa.C.S. § 3310(b) addresses situations involving combinations of vehicles and trucks, like commercial trucks pulling trailers. This part of the law aims to address the unique challenges posed by the operation of vehicle combinations, such as tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, and other similar arrangements on public roads.

    Because of their size and weight, these vehicle combinations inherently require more space and time to stop safely compared to standard passenger vehicles. Therefore, the statute emphasizes stricter adherence to safe following distances for these combinations to mitigate the risk of rear-end collisions, especially in conditions of heavy traffic, inclement weather, or when moving through construction zones.

    Lastly, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3310(c) provides guidelines for the operation of motor vehicles in caravans or motorcades. Specifically, it mandates that vehicles being driven in a caravan or motorcade, regardless of whether they are towing other vehicles, must maintain sufficient space between each vehicle or combination of vehicles. This spacing is essential to allow other vehicles to safely enter and occupy space within the line of cars without posing a danger to themselves or others on the road.

    However, this subsection explicitly excludes funeral processions, which are given the right of way and should not be interrupted by any vehicles other than emergency vehicles responding to an incident.

    How a Lawyer Can Help You After a Rear-End Collision in Pennsylvania

    In the wake of a rear-end collision accident, a lawyer can help you by ensuring that the police do 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 is 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.

    Evidence that Can Help Prove Liability in a Rear-End Accident in Pennsylvania

    As mentioned, Pennsylvania law generally presumes that the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is at fault because of the expectation that drivers maintain a safe following distance. However, this presumption can be challenged under certain circumstances, making the collection and presentation of evidence crucial to any rear-end accident case. The following are common types of evidence used to prove liability in Pennsylvania rear-end accidents:

    Police Reports

    One of the primary pieces of evidence in a rear-end accident lawsuit is the police report. The police report provides an official account of the accident, including details about the time, location, and conditions under which the collision occurred. It might also contain preliminary assessments of fault based on observations made by the responding officers at the scene. This document serves as a foundational piece of evidence, offering a baseline narrative for the incident.

    Medical Records

    The physical and emotional injuries resulting from a rear-end collision can vary significantly, making medical records an essential form of evidence. These documents detail the extent of the injuries sustained, treatments received, and the prognosis for recovery. Having proof of your damages is crucial, as it covers the impact the accident has had on your emotional and physical health and other aspects of your life.

    Photographic and Video Evidence

    Photographs and videos taken at the accident scene can provide compelling visual evidence of the circumstances leading to the collision. This includes images of vehicle damage, road conditions, traffic signals, and any relevant road signs. Camera footage, whether from surveillance cameras or bystanders, can also offer a real-time account of the accident, further supporting claims of liability.

    Dashcams have also become incredibly impactful in these cases. In fact, dashcams are essentially purchased so drivers have an ongoing account of their driving activities in case of an accident. These cameras are typically set up to catch most of the action from the vantage point of the windshield, meaning that they can provide compelling video in the event of a rear-end collision.

    Witness Statements

    Eyewitness accounts play a vital role in reconstructing the events leading up to and following a rear-end collision. For any car accident, there are three possible witness groups: you, the other parties involved in the crash, and any passersby who might have seen what happened. These firsthand accounts can corroborate your version of events, provide alternative perspectives, and potentially identify contributing factors overlooked in the initial assessment.

    Lost Income

    The financial impact of a rear-end collision extends beyond medical expenses. Lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and other economic damages are critical components of a comprehensive claim. Documentation such as pay stubs, employment records, and expert testimony regarding future earnings potential can substantiate claims for compensation related to these losses.

    Accident Reconstruction Experts

    In complex rear-end accident cases, the expertise of accident reconstruction specialists can be invaluable. These professionals utilize scientific methods to analyze the collision, offering insights into vehicle speeds, angles of impact, and the sequence of events leading to the accident. Their findings can provide compelling evidence to support claims of liability, especially in cases where the cause of the accident is disputed.

    Speak with Our Pennsylvania Rear-End Collision Lawyers Offering Free Consultations

    For a free case assessment, speak with our Pennsylvania car accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940.

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