Unfortunately, rear-end collisions in South Carolina are relatively common occurrences. Due to a variety of factors, including heavy traffic, driver distraction and tailgating, these are among the most frequent causes of traffic accidents. So what happens after a rear-end collision and how is liability determined? To find out more, keep reading.
What causes a rear-end collision?
There are several reasons that account for most rear-end collisions. The first is that too many drivers follow other vehicles too closely. The law in South Carolina is clear that all motorists must maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles. Generally, drivers are advised to maintain a three or four second minimum following distance, though this is only under ideal conditions and should be extended in bad weather or especially heavy traffic.
A second factor in rear-end collisions is driver distraction. Drivers may be distracted by their phones, radios, food, grooming or even other passengers, and may have turned their attention away from the road and, as a result, dramatically increased the likelihood of being involved in an accident. Distracted drivers are slow to react when a car pulls in front of them from another lane or is forced to brake suddenly and are much more likely to collide with the back of the other vehicle. Driver distraction, when combined with heavy traffic where vehicles make sudden stops, is a special recipe for rear-end collisions.
Who is to blame?
Most people have heard at some point that if a car is rear-ended, it is automatically the fault of the driver who did the colliding, regardless of the other driver’s behavior. While it’s true that rear-end collisions do tend to be the responsibility of those in the rear, that is not always the case and some important exceptions do exist.
What are the exceptions to liability?
If you’ve hit another driver from behind, you may be convinced that you will be held financially responsible for the accident, regardless of what dangerous behavior the lead driver was engaged in. While this is true in some cases, there are exceptions to this rule. The first exception is for cases involving faulty or broken taillights. If the lead car lacked properly functioning taillights, you could never be expected to know when that person was slowing down. As a result, any rear-end collision that happened as a result is not your fault.
Another exception is in cases where the other driver is behaving unreasonably and operating his or her vehicle in a reckless manner. Stopping suddenly and for no reason in heavy traffic is something even the most capable drivers could not anticipate and may be a good cause for avoiding liability or at least sharing blame with the lead driver. This exception may also apply in cases where mechanical problems are to blame for an accident. If a car suddenly loses power while cruising along at top speeds on the interstate and you collide with the rear of that vehicle you can argue that this was not your fault, assuming you had been following along at a safe distance.
Chain reaction crash
Another type of rear-end collision involves a chain reaction crash. In these cases, many people assume everyone is negligent, though that may not always be true. A good example of a classic chain reaction accident is when traffic is stopped at a light and one vehicle hits the last car in a row of vehicles, forcing all the other vehicles forward into the cars in front of them. In this case, the car at the end of the chain that sparked the first accident will often be held liable for all of the damages.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.