Which Driver is at Fault for a Rear-End Collision?

When two vehicles impact in a rear-end collision, the driver of the striking vehicle is typically at fault.  However, while less common, there are also some situations where the front driver may be the driver at fault.  If you or one of your family members was injured in a rear-end collision in Salt Lake City, you should speak with the experienced Salt Lake car accident lawyers of Overson Law about your legal options for getting compensated.  Depending on the circumstances of the auto accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your lost income, your medical bills, your property damage, and other expenses.

How Do You Get Compensated for a Car Accident Injury in Utah?

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Utah is a no-fault state with regard to auto insurance.  That means it does not matter which driver was at fault for an accident.  No matter who caused the crash, both drivers would first look to their own insurers for compensation.  A claim you file with your own insurance company is called a first-party claim.

Utah drivers are required to carry at least $3,000 in PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage.  (For more information on insurance coverage, see our articles on Utah minimum car insurance requirements and optional forms of auto insurance coverage.)  If you are injured in a crash, such as a rear-end collision, you must exhaust your PIP coverage before you will be able to file a lawsuit or hold the other driver liable for your costs.  In other words, you are barred from suing unless you incur at least $3,000 in expenses.

However, there is one exception to this rule.  Utah car accident victims can sue for expenses less than $3,000 if they sustained any of the following types of injuries:

  • Permanent impairment
  • Permanent disability, such as paralysis caused by a traumatic brain injury
  • Permanent disfigurement, such as facial scarring
  • Dismemberment/loss of limb

If your rear-end collision resulted in any of these injuries, or caused expenses above $3,000, you may be able to sue the other driver or make a claim with their insurance company (called a third-party claim).  Utah car accident compensation may come from a settlement, which results from out-of-court negotiations, or, if negotiations are unsuccessful, a verdict awarded in a lawsuit.  However, in order for the injury victim to receive compensation, it must first be determined that the other driver was at fault.

How Liability is Determined in a Rear-End Collision

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When two drivers get into a collision, it is common for both to claim the other was at fault.  To uncover the truth, it is necessary to perform a detailed investigation into the accident.

This can involve a few layers.  To begin with, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to examine the damage to your vehicle and assess the financial losses.  The adjuster will also review the police accident report, if one exists.  (While not mandatory to report non-injury accidents resulting in property damage under $1,500, it’s still a good idea, as the resulting police report can be a handy tool during settlement negotiations.)

It is likely the other driver’s insurance company will attempt to deny fault and liability after its initial review of the accident.  But our attorneys will use photographs, video footage, lab wreckage analysis, eyewitness testimony, expert interviews, medical records, and any other sources of evidence available to build a compelling argument.  If the need arises, we are prepared to take your case to court.

Fortunately for the victims of rear-end collisions, the striking driver is typically presumed to be at fault due to violating Utah Code § 41-6a-711(1)(b), which requires all drivers to leave at least two seconds of following distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead.  (More generally, the statute requires Utah motorists to maintain a “reasonable and prudent” following distance, keeping in mind factors like speed limit, traffic congestion, and weather conditions.)  There is an assumption that rear-end collisions are avoidable when drivers place adequate distance between themselves and other vehicles.  Therefore, if a collision occurs, the assumption is that the striking driver was following too closely, or tailgating.

That being said, there are some scenarios in which the striking driver might not be found at fault — for instance, if the driver was pushed by another vehicle, or encountered some sudden hazard such as a pothole in a poorly maintained road.

Contact a Salt Lake City Car Wreck Attorney For Help with Your Legal Matter

While the striking driver is typically the driver at fault, there are some exceptions where the opposite may be true.  Ultimately, it is impossible to say who was at fault, or whether you have a claim, without first reviewing your matter one-on-one in a free consultation with an experienced Utah personal injury lawyer.

Darwin Overson has more than 33 years of experience handling a wide variety of auto accident claims on behalf of injured Utah drivers and passengers, including numerous cases involving rear-end collisions on highways, city streets, and rural roads.  If you or one of your loved ones was rear-ended by another driver in a Utah intersection accident, you may be entitled to compensation.

Call Darwin right away at (801) 895-3143 to talk about your claim in a free legal consultation.  Darwin will keep your information confidential.  Darwin handles car accident claims in Wasatch County, Salt Lake County, Davis County, Summit County, and locations throughout Utah.


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