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While many people assume – often, wrongly – that they do not need a Seattle rear-end collision attorney, because fault is almost always clear in car accidents where one vehicle rear-ends another vehicle, you need to understand that (a) liability is not always easily determined in rear-end accidents, and (b) you will be up against insurance companies when trying to recover damages.

Yes, insurance companies are almost always your worst adversaries when it comes to seeking compensation for a car crash in Seattle or elsewhere in Washington, even in accidents where it seems that fault is easily determined and the negligence of the other motorist cannot be refuted by anyone in his or her right mind.

Determining fault in a rear-end accident

Just because you were injured in a rear-end crash does not necessarily mean that the driver of the vehicle in the back will be held responsible for the crash 100 percent of the time. Our experienced rear-end accident attorney in Seattle explains that you (or your lawyer) will still have to prove that the other motorist was negligent.

For example, was the other motorist distracted by his or her phone when he or she failed to notice you slowing down? Or did the other motorist fail to maintain a safe distance between the vehicles? Many factors will come into play when determining liability in a rear-end collision.

Do keep in mind that Washington is a comparative negligence state, where your compensation can be reduced by the percentage of your own negligence if your negligent act or failure to act contributed to the crash in any manner.

The driver of the rear vehicle is not always at fault

More often than not, rear-end accidents are caused by the vehicle in the back failing to react in time to a vehicle breaking in front of it. But whether or not the driver of the rear vehicle could have been reasonably expected to react to a vehicle breaking in front of him or her depends on both the speed and distance between the two vehicles, as well as why and how the vehicle in the front hit the brakes or changed lanes.

If you can prove that the rear driver was driving too close to your vehicle and failed to keep a safe distance, then the driver of the vehicle in the back will most likely be held at fault for the crash unless he or she can prove that you contributed to the crash. For example, if the other motorist can prove that you merged into his or her lane when the maneuver was not safe to execute and the driver did not have a reasonable amount of time to swerve to avoid a collision, you will most likely be held liable for that rear-end accident.

Factors to consider when determining fault in rear-end crashes

If you want to prove the rear driver’s fault in a rear-end accident, you may want to look into the following factors to establish fault and win your case:

  1. Was the driver distracted by his/her cell phone or anything else? This can be proven by witness statements, footage from dash cams and other cameras in the area, and collecting data from the driver’s phone (e.g. look at when the driver sent his or her last text prior to the crash).
  2. Did the driver fail to maintain at least a 3-second gap between his/her vehicle and your vehicle? Maintaining at least a 3-second gap gives a motorist in the back plenty of time to respond to any change in speed or direction of the lead vehicle.
  3. Did you use brake lights or turn signals? If your brake lights and turn signals are operational and you used them properly prior to slowing down or changing lanes, but the driver of the rear vehicle still failed to respond to the change in speed or direction, you are one step closer to proving the other motorist’s negligence.
  4. Did you have to slow down because of a bad road condition, e.g. a pothole or uneven pavement? If you can prove that you had to slow down due to a bad road condition, and the driver of the rear vehicle was reasonably expected to either react to you slowing down or notice the bad road condition themselves, you may be able to prove that driver’s negligence if he or she rear-ended you.

Regardless of how your rear-end collision occurred and which factors were involved in causing the crash, it is highly advised that you speak to a Seattle rear-end collision lawyer from Russell & Hill, PLLC, to ensure that your rights are protected. Schedule a free consultation with our car accident attorneys by calling at 206-880-7703.

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