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Determining Fault for a Rear-End Collision

In Massachusetts, fault for a car accident is generally determined based on negligence, which is the failure to exercise the reasonable care that a prudent person would ordinarily observe under similar circumstances. When it comes to rear-end collisions, the law makes it a presumption that the driver in the rear vehicle was principally at fault, but that is not the result in every case.

Rear-end collisions normally occur when the driver following from behind did not leave sufficient following distance between the two vehicles. If the driver ahead slows or stops and the rear driver cannot stop in sufficient time and space, there is likely to be a negligence finding at trial. More often, the case will settle. In such a collision, the likelihood is that the driver of the rear vehicle is presumed to be at fault.

However, any presumption of fault can be challenged under certain circumstances. For example, the driver ahead may have done one of the following:

  • Reversed and backed into the rear vehicle at a traffic light
  • Made an abrupt lane change without signaling
  • Stopped suddenly in fast-moving traffic
  • Had dysfunctional brake lights 
  • Stopped for an emergency without putting on hazard lights

Massachusetts follows a no-fault insurance system, which means that each driver’s insurance company generally pays for their own medical expenses and property damage, regardless of who was at fault. However, if the damages exceed a certain threshold or meet specific criteria, a driver may have the right to pursue a claim against the at-fault party.

Under Massachusetts’ comparative negligence rule, liability for an accident must be apportioned based on fault. To recover damages, you must show that the other party was 50 percent to blame or more.

The determination of fault involves a careful examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident. The police report, witness statements, traffic laws and available evidence such as surveillance footage or vehicle data recorders (commonly known as black boxes) may all be considered in assessing fault.

If you are involved in a rear-end collision in Massachusetts, a skilled automobile negligence attorney can navigate the legal complexities and ensure that your rights are protected. An attorney can gather evidence, assess liability and help you recover compensation for damages.

For more than 70 years, the Massachusetts car accident lawyers at Feinberg & Alban PC have helped victims of car crashes throughout Greater Boston get the optimal compensation for their injures. Call us today at 617-232-5950or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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