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Rear-end Collisions in Ohio: How Fault is Determined

August 8, 2023

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Rear-end collisions are some of the most common types of motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions account for approximately 29% of all US motor vehicle accidents. Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy has represented auto accident victims in Cleveland for decades. Our team of experienced Cleveland auto accident lawyers do all they can to make sure auto accident victims in Cleveland get the justice and fair compensation they deserve. 

Common Causes of Rear-end Collisions

Each car accident is unique and occurs under different circumstances. However, there are a few common causes of rear-end collisions:

  • Distracted driving: Drivers who are texting or calling on their cell phones, reaching for things on the floor, talking to passengers, or otherwise not paying attention to changes in the traffic ahead are often the cause of rear-end collisions.
  • Speeding: A rear-end collision is much more likely to happen if the driver is traveling at an unsafe speed. 
  • Hazardous lane changes: Rear-end collisions are often caused by drivers changing lanes while not paying attention to the flow of traffic or what's going on around them. 
  • Tailgating: As mentioned above, safe driving means a driver keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them. This is especially true in bad weather conditions when a driver may require more stopping distance. 

Common Injuries Following a Rear-end Collision

Minor rear-end collisions, sometimes called fender benders, often result in minimal or no damage to either vehicle. But even a fender bender can seriously injure the drivers and passengers of the vehicles involved. Moreover, some rear-end collisions can be so severe that they cause catastrophic injuries and tremendous property damage.  

Common injuries sustained in rear-end collisions include:

  • Whiplash: This is where the victim suffers an injury to the body's soft tissues (the muscles, tendons, and ligaments). Whiplash is caused by a whip-like movement of the neck and head during the accident, and it can take several days to notice the symptoms. 
  • Bone fractures: This type of injury can happen in any car accident. In a rear-end collision, a victim can sustain a broken bone in any part of their body, including their hands, feet, skull, rib cage, or spine. 
  • Traumatic brain Injuries: The sudden impact from a rear-end collision may cause the brain to be shaken inside the skull, resulting in bruising and possibly brain damage. 
  • Spine and back injuries: The force of impact from a rear-end collision can compress the spinal cord and lower discs, causing serious spine and back injuries. Paralysis can result from severe spinal cord injuries. 
  • Scarring and disfigurement: In a rear-end collision, a vehicle's occupant may be violently thrown against the dashboard, the headrests, and other objects inside the vehicle, resulting in disfiguring injuries and scars. 
  • Chest injuries: The seat belts protect your body from being thrown forward towards the steering wheel or dashboard. However, they can also cause broken ribs and other chest injuries. 

Determining Fault for a Rear-end Collision 

All motorists should practice basic care and respect for other drivers. This includes maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front, so they can stop well before a collision if needed. 

Under Ohio law, there is a legal presumption that the rear driver in a rear-end collision is at fault. That means that when there is a rear-end collision, the law assumes that the rear driver is to blame for the accident, which is usually a reasonable assumption. However, the law will allow the rear driver to overcome the assumption of fault by proving that they were not at fault, or at least not entirely, because of some unusual or extenuating circumstances. 

For example, the rear driver might argue that the collision is partly the fault of the front driver because the brake lights on the front driver's car were not working, or because the front driver slammed on their brakes and tried to cause a rear-end collision. In those cases, the front driver might be partially or entirely at fault for the accident. 

Although they are unusual, there are situations in which a rear-end collision could be the fault of the front driver, and the rear driver will have the opportunity to prove this.

Comparative Negligence in Ohio 

As mentioned above, an assumption of fault lies with the rear driver in a rear-end collision. However, the driver in front may also share fault for the accident, depending on the circumstances involved. 

Whenever fault is shared between parties to an accident in Ohio, each party can recover damages reduced by their own percentage of fault. However, if a party is more than 50% at fault for the accident, that party will be barred from recovering any compensation. 

Determining fault for a rear-end collision can be complicated and often requires the help of an experienced auto accident lawyer. A skilled auto accident lawyer in Cleveland will use evidence such as skid marks and debris, the location of the damage on the vehicles involved, witness testimony, video surveillance footage, the police report, and the testimony of the drivers involved to establish liability for the accident.

Who Is Liable for A Rear-End Collision Involving Three or More Vehicles?

It is not uncommon for multiple vehicles to be involved in a rear-end collision. These types of accidents are often called chain-reaction accidents because one collision causes another, and so on. 

Determining fault for any motor vehicle accident can be difficult. But it gets even more difficult when three or more vehicles are involved. Often, fault for a rear-end collision involving three or more vehicles is shared by multiple parties.

In these types of accidents, each driver's insurance company will attempt to place all the blame on the other drivers involved. So, along with hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer to protect your interest, you need to document the accident scene as best you can and preserve as much evidence as possible.

Call the Cleveland Auto Accident Lawyers at Nurenberg Paris

If you or a loved one was injured in a rear-end collision in Cleveland, call us today for a free consultation and review of your case. We have the knowledge, experience, and track record needed to fight successfully on your behalf.

At Nurenberg Paris, every potential client gets a free consultation with an auto accident lawyer Cleveland residents trust. We love helping accident victims protect their rights and recover the compensation they need and deserve.

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