Did you know that there were 282,640 car accidents in Michigan last year? And of those accidents, there were 1,131 fatalities.
Furthermore, rear end collisions are widespread and tend to be some of the most common types of accidents that occur. And not only are rear end collisions common, but they can also be the most frustrating to deal with when determining liability.
We often get clients asking who is responsible for rear end collisions. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.
When it comes to any accident, including rear end collisions, the driver whose negligence caused the accident is the one who will be held liable. Of course, people then want to know who the negligent driver is—the one in front or the driver in the back who did the rear ending?
In most cases, the rear driver is often the one responsible and at fault. However, there are some situations where this is not true, and it could be the driver in front or even another party that is to blame.
Let’s take a closer look at rear end collisions and Michigan rear end accident laws to better understand.
What Causes a Rear End Collision?
Like any accident, a rear end collision can happen for any number of reasons at any time. However, these accidents most often happen at intersections or when traffic is traveling at high speeds, such as on the highway.
Behaviors and factors that most commonly contribute to rear end collisions include the following:
- Tailgating and following too closely behind another driver.
- Bumper-to-bumper traffic
- Distracted driving, such as using a cell phone, adjusting the radio, eating, or grooming while driving
- Brake checking
- Driving while intoxicated
- Fatigued driving
- Bad weather and slippery roads
- Failure to yield the right of way
What Are Michigan’s Laws Concerning Rear End Collisions?
Two Michigan laws can play a role in rear end collision cases:
- Motor vehicle code 257.402: This law states that a rear driver “shall be deemed prima facie guilty of negligence” if they were traveling in a certain direction and overtook and struck the back of another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
- Motor vehicle code 257.627: This law states that drivers are to drive at “a careful and prudent speed with regard for traffic, surface, and width of the highway and any other existing condition.” This law also states that drivers shall not operate a vehicle at such a speed that they will not be able to stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
So, for the first law listed, this essentially means that the rear driver will automatically be deemed negligent and at fault, UNLESS through evidence and testimony, they can prove otherwise and overcome the presumption of guilt.
For the second law listed, it means that drivers must drive at a reasonable speed with consideration for traffic and road conditions. So if traffic is congested or if the roads are wet and slippery, you must drive slower and be more careful. If you do not drive at a reasonable speed with these road conditions in mind and you cause a rear end collision, you can be deemed negligent and at fault.
Who is At Fault in a Rear End Collision?
So, in most cases, it is the rear driver who will be found guilty. Even if the front driver slams on their brakes at the last minute, it is the rear driver’s responsibility to drive at a reasonable speed and to leave a safe distance between them so they have enough time to brake without rear ending the front vehicle.
However, as stated above, rear drivers can overcome the automatic presumption of guilt if they can provide evidence and testimony that shows that another party is at fault. For example, the front driver could be at fault instead if they had broken brake lights or if they backed up without looking.
It is also possible for a third party to be held liable. For instance, if the rear driver’s brakes failed, causing them to hit the front driver, they could potentially hold the car manufacturer liable if the failure was due to a defect that the driver was unaware of.
What is the Total Payout for a Rear End Collision?
Compensation or payout for a rear end collision will vary based on the individual situation and a variety of factors.
First, Michigan is a no-fault state, which means drivers must first file a claim through their own No-Fault PIP insurance. This will provide them with compensation no matter who is at fault for the accident.
If the no-fault benefits are not enough to cover all damages, it is possible to file an additional claim or lawsuit against the guilty party for further compensation, but only if certain thresholds are met. In this case, you will also be required to provide sufficient evidence to prove that another party was at fault and that you suffered excess damages as a result of their negligence.
It is also important to note that Michigan is a comparative fault state, which means your compensation could be reduced if you are partially to blame for the accident. Essentially, the amount you can recover will be comparative to your percentage of fault. So even if another party is primarily responsible, if you are 10% to blame, your settlement will be reduced by 10%.
In some rear end collisions, there may be so much damage that your car is considered a “total loss.” In the case of a total loss rear end collision, the insurance company is essentially saying that the cost of repairs is more than what your car is actually worth. This means you will likely only be offered an amount based on how much your car is worth, not how much it would cost to repair it.
The best way to get a high-value settlement in a rear end collision is to work with an attorney. Proving fault can be a challenge enough on its own, let alone having to fight with insurance companies to make sure they pay you the compensation you deserve. But with an attorney on your side, they can handle all of the difficult legal matters for you and stand up to insurers to make sure they pay you a full and fair settlement.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm: Detroit Rear End Collision Attorneys
At The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, our car accident lawyers have years of experience handling Michigan rear end collision claims. We can help you navigate your claim, ensure the right party is held liable, and get you the full and fair settlement you deserve.
Call our Detroit rear end collision lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). You’ll pay nothing until we settle your case.