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blog Auto Accident Who Is At Fault in Oklahoma Rear-End Accidents?

Who Is At Fault in Oklahoma Rear-End Accidents?

By Car Accident Help on September 8, 2023 | Posted in: Auto Accident

Among the many daily Oklahoma road accidents, rear-end collisions are unfortunately quite common. When such an incident occurs, it’s essential to understand who might be at fault. In this guide, our experienced auto accident attorneys will explore rear-end accidents, their causes, and the factors determining fault. 

If you are the victim of a rear-end collision and have suffered permanent catastrophic injuries, contact our team for a free car accident analysis. We’re ready to help you today.  

Understanding Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end accidents, often referred to as rear-end collisions or crashes, happen when one vehicle strikes the back of another. These incidents can lead to various rear-end collision injuries, such as whiplash, soft tissue injuries, back and spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries and others, and often result in vehicle damage. But who is to blame when such accidents occur? Let’s break it down.

Rear-End Accident Statistics

Before delving into fault determination, let’s take a look at some rear-end accident statistics to gain a better perspective:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) statistics, rear-end accidents account for a significant portion of all traffic collisions. In 2020, they accounted for 27% of all accidents involving another motor vehicle. 

Rear-end collisions are often linked to distracted driving, tailgating, reduced visibility due to weather or hills, and sudden stops. Injury rates in rear-end collisions can vary, but whiplash and other soft tissue injuries are common injuries associated with these accidents. Additionally, the NHTSA data also shows that although rear-end collisions are less likely to be fatal than head-on accidents, they still do cause fatalities each year. 


Common Causes of Rear-End Crashes in Oklahoma 

There are many common causes of rear-end collisions. Although you may consider yourself a safe and experienced driver, it’s important to remember that each time you enter the roadway, you may face unique circumstances. It’s important to stay alert, drive attentively, and be aware of your surroundings. Here are a few common causes of rear-end collisions. 

Unsafe Following Distance

Drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance to allow for reaction time. Tailgating or following too closely is often seen as negligent behavior. Suppose a vehicle stops abruptly for a valid reason (e.g., avoiding an obstacle); if you follow too closely, you may collide with the car you are following. In that case, the fault may lie with your vehicle (the car following too closely) because the person in front slowed or stopped for a valid reason. However, exceptions apply when the stopping vehicle’s actions are reckless or unpredictable.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of rear-end accidents. If a driver is texting, using a phone, or engaging in other distractions and causing an accident, they may be at fault. You can learn more about distracted driving by reading our in-depth guide to Oklahoma cell phone driving laws

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions like rain, snow, or fog can reduce visibility and road traction. Drivers are expected to adjust their speed and maintain a safe following distance in adverse weather. 

Brake Lights

In some cases, a faulty or non-functional brake light on the lead vehicle may also impact fault determination.


Who Is To Blame in a Rear-End Crash? 

Determining blame in a rear-end collision typically hinges on several key factors. Fault in an accident is not always clear-cut and ultimately falls to law enforcement to assign based upon the information that they gather.  Though law enforcement might state who is at fault, this is a factor to be considered not a definitive determination. In most places, the presumption is that the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is at fault, as they are expected to maintain a safe following distance and react promptly to changes in traffic conditions.

However, this presumption can be challenged in certain circumstances, like those mentioned. For instance, if the lead vehicle suddenly and unexpectedly stops or reverses or has malfunctioning brake lights that do not indicate their deceleration, the fault may shift toward the front vehicle. If you have been severely injured in a collision and you have questions about responsibility, contact our team of Oklahoma car accident lawyers today for a case evaluation.   

What to Do After A Rear-End Collision 

Continuing with our guide on rear-end accidents, let’s explore some practical advice and steps to take if you are in such a situation. For more in-depth information, check out our guide for what to do after a collision

  • Safety First: After a rear-end accident, your safety and the safety of others involved should be the top priority. If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location, such as the shoulder of the road, to avoid further collisions.
  • Check for Injuries: Assess yourself and others in your vehicle for injuries. If anyone is injured, call for medical assistance immediately. Adrenaline is high after an accident, and no matter how minor, some injuries, especially soft tissue injuries have delayed symptoms, so seeking medical attention is crucial.
  • Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved. Be sure to record their name, phone number, insurance company, and policy number. Use a friendly and respectful tone when communicating; emotions can run high after an accident.
  • Document the Scene: If it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to both vehicles, road conditions, traffic signs, and any skid marks. This documentation can be valuable when determining fault and processing insurance claims.
  • Notify Authorities: In many areas, it’s necessary to report accidents to the police, especially if there are injuries or significant damage. Be honest and cooperative when speaking with law enforcement officers.
  • Witness Information: If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information. Their statements may be valuable when determining fault.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t initially feel injured, seeking a medical evaluation after a rear-end accident is advisable. Some injuries, like soft tissue injuries or concussions, may not manifest symptoms immediately.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Some insurance companies provide their insured with a card or booklet of what to do after an accident. If you have a quick tip guide, you will know what information your insurance company will need.  Use a friendly and clear tone when describing the incident and providing the necessary details. They will guide you through the claims process.
  • Consult an Attorney: If the fault is disputed or if you’ve sustained significant injuries, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney experienced in rear-end accidents. They can provide legal guidance and ensure your rights are protected.
  • Follow Medical Advice: If you receive medical treatment, adhere to your doctor’s recommendations for recovery. This not only ensures your well-being but also supports your insurance claim.
  • Stay Calm and Patient: Dealing with the aftermath of a rear-end accident can be stressful. Still, it’s essential to remain calm and patient throughout the process. Trust that the legal and insurance systems will work to resolve the situation fairly.


Car Accident Help is Here to Stand With You

In the realm of rear-end accidents, determining fault is not always straightforward. It requires a compassionate and empathetic approach, taking into account various factors such as following distance, sudden stops, distractions, weather conditions, and brake light functionality.

Ultimately, assigning fault in rear-end accidents is a matter for legal authorities and insurance companies to decide. If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision and want to understand your legal situation better, the skilled attorneys at Car Accident Help are an invaluable resource to get you through the legal process. The trustworthy attorneys on our team help our clients to protect their rights and seek appropriate compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Attorney L. Ray Maples II wrote Don't Wreck Twice with the intent of offering guidance and information to vehicle wreck victims. The book provides answers to some of the most important and frequently asked questions following an Oklahoma vehicle collision, which will be an invaluable resource to those involved in auto accidents.