Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Liability and Presumptions In Cases Where A Car Is Rear-Ended


You’ve always been a cautious driver, driving the speed limit, using your signals properly, and even being the eyes and ears for other drivers. Let’s just say this, one would most definitely describe you as a reasonably prudent motorist. Imagine this, Friday afternoon at approximately 4:15 p.m., you find yourself in bumper to bumper traffic after a long day at work. You prudently check your rearview mirror and notice a bright red sports car that is weaving in and out of traffic at an alarming rate. You try your best to avoid this negligent driver, but you notice they are quickly approaching the upcoming exit that you plan to take as well. It happens so fast, the red sports car dashes in front of you at the last minute, you don’t have enough time to brake and avoid the collision. Just before you know it you have rear ended the red sports car. It is common knowledge that the person who rear ended the other vehicle is automatically liable or is it?

Generally all motorists owe a duty to operate their vehicle in safe and prudent manner. A breach of this duty would be any of the following:

  • Failure to pay attention to the road and look out for hazards
  • Failure to apply brakes when appropriate
  • Failure to adhere to posted speed limit
  • Failure to control vehicle
  • Failure to yield when a pedestrian or vehicle has the right of way
  • Failure to use proper signals and operation of vehicle with malfunctioning signal s
  • Most important and relevant, failure to follow at a safe distance.

However, the apportioning of liability is not always as cut and dry or black and white as this. Those motorists who have been rear ended owe a duty of care to other drivers as well. One may argue that had you maintained a safe distance behind the other car you would have adequate enough time to avoid the collision. In opposition, these motorists must not engage in behavior that could possibly bring about harm to those around them. Thus, all aspects of the case and the events leading up to the accident must always been taken into consideration. Negligence is when one’s conduct falls below the standard of care determined by law to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm. Therefore, one who swerves in and out of traffic, exceeds the posted speed, or even fails to signal, has in engaged in negligent conduct and may be held liable although they were the victims in the accident and/or suffered damage.

Maneuvering through the nuances of personal injury claims, dealing with the insurance companies of both parties, and ensuring that your rights are asserted can be a complex process. With members of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the American Association for Justice, and the Atlanta Bar Association, Angell Law Firm’s attorneys have the proficiency to ensure that our legal expertise will maximize the value of your claim. If you are in the Atlanta area call (770) 217-4954, now, before you deal with the insurance adjuster.