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Is the rear driver always to blame for a Georgia rear-end crash?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

There are certain kinds of crashes where any of the vehicles involved might technically be at fault. In a head-on collision, for example, either driver may have conducted an unsafe maneuver or swerved into the wrong lane of traffic.

With rear-end crashes, fault for the incident may seem a bit more obvious. There is an assumption that the driver in the rear vehicle is likely to blame. However, that is not necessarily always the case. There are scenarios in which the driver of the front vehicle might actually be the party to blame for a rear-end collision.

Traffic statutes create a presumption of fault

There are many legal requirements in Georgia that apply to those operating motor vehicles. If people consistently abide by those rules, the possibility of a crash occurring would decrease substantially. Unfortunately, overt traffic infractions are a common issue in Georgia and elsewhere.

The main statute that people reference when they say the rear driver is always to blame for a rear-end crash is the law about following distance. Georgia requires that every motorist maintain a safe distance when following another vehicle in traffic. What constitutes a safe distance depends on road conditions and the type of vehicle involved, as well as the speed of travel. Generally speaking, a driver who gets too close to another vehicle would be liable if a crash occurs.

However, there are other statutes that may create liability for the driver in the front vehicle. A motorist needs to properly maintain their vehicle and to use integrated vehicle systems to communicate with other drivers. A failure to do so could lead to someone being at fault for a crash.

Having burned-out brake lights or turn signals might mean that other drivers don’t know when someone has begun to decelerate or plans to turn. They might then get too close to the other vehicle because they don’t have advanced warning of their intentions. Simply failing to use a turn signal could create a similar scenario in which drivers cannot adjust their conduct appropriately.

The other main scenario in which the driver in front might be at fault for a rear-end crash is when they maneuver too aggressively. If someone merges or turns out onto a street in front of oncoming traffic, they could be at fault for the collision because they cut someone else off, making it impossible for the other driver to slow down or stop in time to prevent a crash.

Traffic camera footage, dashboard camera footage and even witness testimony could help prove that the driver in the front vehicle did something inappropriate or illegal and is, therefore, potentially at fault for a rear-end collision. Holding the right party accountable for a wreck is undeniably important, but they must be accurately identified first.