You may have heard people say that the rear driver is always at fault in an accident. If there’s a rear-end crash, they claim, it is never the front driver who is to blame. It is always the person who is behind them who is responsible for that crash – and who would theoretically be liable for any medical costs or other bills stemming from it.
But is this true? If someone suddenly slams on the brakes in front of you, it may be very unexpected and you certainly may feel like that sudden action is what caused the crash. You were driving safely until they hit their brakes. How is it not their fault?
Safe following distances
The general idea behind this saying comes from the fact that drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance at all times. Alabama law says that they “shall not follow another more closely than is reasonable and prudent.” This is often defined as 3 to 4 seconds, though it depends on conditions. It should allow for enough reaction time that someone can slow down or stop, even if the driver ahead of them does something unexpected.
After all, just because it’s unexpected doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary. Maybe a pet or a child ran into the road. Drivers need to make sudden movements without being worried that drivers behind them are going to cause an accident.
There are rare exceptions to this rule. An example could be “brake-checking,” which is when one driver intentionally slows down at a rapid rate of speed to cause a near miss when they feel that someone else is tailgating their car Intentionally causing an accident is always illegal. But in a general sense, the rear driver is usually at fault.
Have you been injured by the negligent actions of another driver? If so, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation.