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What is the Law on Rear-End Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 40 percent of the car accidents occurring in the U.S. are rear-end accidents. Rear-end collisions are often the result of the tailing driver either following at an unsafe distance, following at an unsafe speed, not paying attention to the conditions of the road ahead of them or distracted driving. There are several things you should know if you have been involved in a rear-end collision.

Who is at fault for a rear-end collision?

Because Tennessee is what is known as an “at fault” state, determining liability is often the most important aspect of any car accident case, including those involving rear-end accidents. In “at fault” states like Tennessee, the driver responsible for the collision must pay compensation for the injuries and property damage suffered by those parties not at fault.

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Under Tennessee law, the tailing driver is almost always liable for a rear-end collision. The statute states that “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.” Tennessee also requires all drivers to devote “full time and attention to operating the vehicle” and considers the failure to do so a Class C misdemeanor.

What if the car in front of me suddenly applied the brakes?

Traffic laws are strictly interpreted in Tennessee. The statute requires all drivers to maintain a reasonable speed and follow at a reasonable distance, given the condition of the traffic and the roadway. For this reason, the tailing car will be considered liable for a rear-end collision, even if the leading car suddenly braked.

Exceptions to the general rule

While the tailing car is almost always considered to be at fault for rear-end accidents, there are a few exceptions to this general rule. First, if the leading car was not properly equipped with brake lights, or was pulled over on the side of the road without warning lights, then the driver of that car may be considered negligent in causing the collision.

A second exception involves collisions consisting of more than two cars. For example, if the car driving behind you rear-ends you as you are slowing down and in so doing causes you to rear-end the car traveling ahead of you, then you may be able to prove that the driver tailing you is liable for any injuries or property damage sustained by the driver you rear-ended.

Finally, under Tennessee law it is possible to hold both drivers liable for a rear-end collision. For example, if you rear-end a car who suddenly moves into your lane on the interstate, you may partially at-fault for the collision if you were recklessly driving at an unsafe speed. In Tennessee, where two parties are found to be at fault, each party will be responsible for the percentage of damage they caused. For example, if the car who cut you off is found to be 80 percent at fault for the collision, that driver will have to pay for 80 percent of the damages.

Make sure to give an experienced Nashville, Tennessee auto collision attorney a call, and they will help you through your case.

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