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  • Writer's pictureThe Dr. Lawyer Law Group

Understanding Fault in Rear-End Accidents in Arizona

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

As personal injury attorneys specializing in car accidents, we see a lot of rear-end accidents. These are accidents where one car crashes into the back of another car. And while these types of accidents are common, determining fault in a rear-end accident can sometimes be more complicated than you might think.


What does it mean to be in a rear-end car crash?

First, let's talk about what a rear-end car accident actually is. These are accidents where one car crashes into the back of another car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most rear-end collisions occur when the front car is either stopped or moving under 10 MPH. The NHTSA’s study also found that rear-end events (crashes or near-misses) occurred 45% of the time with a lead vehicle that was slowing down, while 38% of rear-end events occurred with a lead vehicle that was completely stopped.


According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, rear-end car crashes were the most common type of motor vehicle accident in Arizona in 2021, accounting for almost 40% of all traffic accidents in the state. Tragically, rear-end collisions also caused 70 deaths on our streets in 2021.


Common causes of a rear-end car crash in Arizona.

What are some common reasons why rear-end accidents happen? In most cases, they occur because the driver who is following the car in front of them is not paying attention and doesn't stop in time. In fact, the NHTSA reports that in almost 50% of rear-end car crashes, the driver of the following vehicle failed to brake or steer in response to a slowing lead vehicle. This means that almost half of rear-end collisions are caused by a distracted driver. Distractions may result from their phone, adjusting the radio, or not paying attention to the road. Sometimes, rear-end accidents happen because the car in front of them suddenly stops or slows down unexpectedly.


Drivers who follow the lead car too closely also increase the chance of causing a rear-end accident. In fact, Arizona law specifically prohibits following another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent.” Transportation researchers who study brake reaction time use an average of 2.5 seconds between “the amount of time that elapses between the recognition of an object or hazard in the roadway and the application of the brakes.”


How is fault determined when a rear-end accident happens in Arizona?

So, who is at fault in an Arizona rear-end accident? In most cases, the driver who crashes into the back of the other car is at fault. This is because all drivers have a duty to follow other vehicles at a safe distance and to be aware of their surroundings. If a driver fails to do this and ends up rear-ending another car, they are usually responsible for the damages.


However, there are some situations where the driver in front of the car may share some of the blame:

  • The driver in front suddenly stops, especially in places where such a move is unexpected, like in the middle of an active traffic lane.

  • The driver in front brakes suddenly to make a turn.

  • The driver in front changes lanes and moves in front of another car without signaling.

  • The driver in front backs into the front of another vehicle while reversing out of a parking spot or driveway or after pulling too far into the intersection at a stoplight.

  • The driver in front operates a vehicle with non-functioning rear brake lights.

  • The driver in front breaks down due to mechanical failure or a flat tire, leaving the car in a traffic lane without using hazard lights or a flare to warn other drivers.

  • The driver in front "brake checks" to deter a tailgating driver.


What happens if multiple cars are involved in a rear-end collision?

Determining fault in a rear-end accident can sometimes be more complicated if multiple cars are involved. For example, if the first car stops suddenly and the second car rear-ends them, but then a third car rear-ends the second car, who is at fault? In this situation, the fault could be split between the drivers of the second and third cars.


To achieve full compensation for the injuries you sustained in a multiple-vehicle accident in Arizona, medical and engineering experts may be required to assist with your claim. At The Dr. Lawyer Law Group, we have the resources to invest in your case to help determine the best argument to make on your behalf. And of course, you pay nothing unless we win.


How is fault determined when a car accident happens in Arizona?

In Arizona, the driver of the rear vehicle involved in a rear-end collision is typically considered at fault because they were unable to stop in time or maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them to avoid a collision. However, this presumption is not absolute. If the driver at the back of the accident can provide evidence showing that the lead driver's negligence also contributed to the accident, the court must take it into consideration.


When determining liability and compensation in car accident cases, Arizona considers the fault of all parties involved. A jury must weigh the potential negligence of each driver in the accident, including the driver in the lead car in a rear-end collision when considering a car accident injury lawsuit.


Arizona law adheres to a legal concept known as “comparative fault.” This means that the amount that you can recover for your injuries at trial is reduced according to how much fault is assigned to you. Even if you think you may be at some fault for your accident, it can still help to speak to an experienced Arizona car accident law firm like The Dr. Lawyer Law Group. With our free car accident case strategy sessions, you have nothing to lose.


What to do after a rear-end accident in Arizona.

It's important to note that even if you were rear-ended in an accident, it's still important to gather evidence and document everything that happened. This can include taking photos of the damage to your car, getting contact information from any witnesses, and seeking medical attention if you were injured. All of this information can be helpful if you decide to file a personal injury claim.


At the Dr. Lawyer Law Group, we understand how stressful and overwhelming a car accident can be. That's why we're here to help you navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve. If you've been involved in a rear-end accident or any other type of car accident, don't hesitate to contact us for a free case strategy session. We're here to help.


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