Rear-End Collisions: Liability and Compensation for Injured Parties

Rear-end vehicle collision.

Rear-end collisions can happen in the blink of an eye, causing significant damage and injury. If you were hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You must prove the other party was responsible for or contributed to the accident to receive compensation. 

Yet, determining liability in rear-end collisions can be challenging. An experienced car accident attorney, though, can establish fault, negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company, and fight for your rights in court if necessary.

In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about liability and recovering financial compensation after an accident. We will also discuss how a car accident attorney can help you on your path to financial recovery.

Understanding Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end car accidents occur when one vehicle collides with the back of another, and these collisions typically happen due to driver error or negligence. For example, a distracted driver may suddenly brake. If the trailing driver is not maintaining a safe distance, he or she may not have enough time to react. 

The severity of rear-end collisions ranges from minor fender-benders to crashes that result in severe injury or death. 

Often, the driver who collided with the rear of the leading car is held responsible. Yet, these accidents are rarely straightforward.

Who Is Liable When a Rear-end Accident Happens?

If you were involved in a rear-end collision, a car accident attorney could help you understand your legal options and build a solid case. The first step to building a claim is determining which parties were responsible for the accident.

Potentially liable parties include:

  • The leading driver, if he or she displayed negligent or reckless behavior
  • Employers of drivers, if the accident occurred during employment
  • Vehicle owners, if they negligently entrusted a vehicle to an incompetent or reckless driver
  • Government entities who are responsible for maintaining safe road conditions if the accident happened because of hazardous road conditions or inadequate signage
  • Manufacturers or distributors of defective auto parts that contributed to the accident, under product liability laws 

Depending on the extent of your losses, you can file an insurance claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit. However, under Utah law, you must meet specific requirements before you are allowed to pursue your case in court.

Factors That Determine Liability in a Rear-End Accident Case

Once potentially liable parties have been identified, you must present evidence showing that the negligent actions caused your damages. Negligence refers to a driver’s failure to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle. 

To pursue a successful lawsuit, you and your legal team must clearly prove 3 key elements of negligence:

  1. Breach of duty: You must show that the at-fault driver breached a duty of care owed to you. His or her breach of duty could involve actions such as distracted driving or disregarding traffic laws.
  2. Causation: You must establish a direct link between the other driver’s actions and the accident, demonstrating how his or her negligent behavior directly led to the collision.
  3. Damages: You must prove the extent of your damages and that these directly resulted from the accident.

The following are additional factors that may impact your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Utah’s comparative negligence laws

Utah follows the modified comparative fault law when determining liability in car accidents. Under this rule, the parties involved can be assigned a percentage of fault for causing the accident. 

If a driver is more than 50 percent at fault for an accident in Utah, he or she may be unable to recover any damages from the other driver. If both drivers are partially at fault, their settlements are reduced according to their percentage of fault. For example, if Driver A is 20 percent at fault and Driver B is 80 percent at fault, Driver A’s damages will be reduced by 20 percent.

Utah car insurance requirements

Utah law mandates that all drivers carry minimum insurance coverage to operate a vehicle on the road legally. Each driver’s insurance policy must cover that person’s medical expenses and other financial losses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

The minimum insurance requirements in Utah are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person in an accident
  • $65,000 total bodily injury or death coverage per accident
  • $15,000 for property damage per accident

These minimum coverage limits ensure that drivers have basic financial protection. However, these minimums may not cover all damages in a severe collision, especially if significant injuries or extensive property damage occur.

Under Utah law, there are exceptions that allow individuals to sue for damages beyond what their PIP coverage provides. For example, a third-party lawsuit can be filed if the victim’s injuries meet certain thresholds, such as permanent disability or medical costs that exceed $3,000.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Utah drivers must carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). These policies protect you if you are involved in an accident with a driver without insurance or sufficient insurance to cover your damages.

UM/UIM coverage can be invaluable when the at-fault driver lacks adequate insurance, ensuring you do not suffer financially due to someone else’s negligence.

What Damages Can You Seek After Being Hurt in a Car Accident?

Seeking compensation can alleviate some of the burdens caused by the collision. What types of compensatory damages are available to you? 

Depending on the facts of your case, you may pursue a settlement for the following.

Medical expenses

These expenses include reimbursement for all medical costs related to the accident, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Surgery costs
  • Medication
  • Rehabilitation
  • Therapy
  • Medical equipment or supplies

Lost wages

Rear-end accident victims may be compensated for wages lost due to missed work resulting from injuries sustained. Victims can receive a settlement covering past and future lost income if the accident caused long-term disability or reduced earning capacity.

Property damage

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, victims may be compensated for repair or replacement costs for damaged property, including:

  • Vehicles
  • Clothing
  • Personal belongings
  • Other property damaged in the incident

Punitive damages

The defendant may face punitive damages in cases involving willful misconduct or gross negligence. 

Punitive damages aim to punish the at-fault party and deter similar conduct. However, punitive damages are relatively rare and are typically only awarded in cases of extreme misconduct.

Why Rear-End Collisions Happen

Driver error and manufacturing errors are among the possible contributing causes. The following are several common reasons rear-end collisions happen.

Brake checking

Rear-end accidents caused by brake-checking drivers can be particularly frustrating and dangerous. Brake checking is when a driver brakes suddenly, forcing the following vehicle to brake or swerve to avoid a collision. This dangerous maneuver can lead to rear-end accidents and put everyone on the road at risk.

Some drivers engage in brake checking for the following reasons:

  • Road rage: Brake checking is often done out of frustration, aggression, or retaliation towards another driver. When tempers flare behind the wheel, it can lead to aggressive driving behaviors and dangerous maneuvers, increasing the risk of rear-end accidents. Some drivers who succumb to road rage may even tailgate aggressively or intentionally collide with other vehicles.
  • Intimidation tactics: Some drivers use brake checking to intimidate or scare the trailing driver into backing off or changing lanes.
  • Tailgating: When a driver is tailgating (driving too closely behind another vehicle), he or she may hit the brakes suddenly if the trailing driver is getting too close.

Regardless of the reason, brake checking is dangerous, irresponsible behavior that can lead to severe accidents and injuries. Whether or not you believe the intent was to cause a crash, you should consult a personal injury lawyer about your legal options if a brake check accident resulted in your injuries.

Brake failure

When a driver’s brakes fail, he or she may be unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with the car ahead. This sudden loss of braking power can lead to rear-end collisions and cause significant injuries.

Determining liability can become more complex when a rear-end collision occurs due to a tailing driver’s brake failure. Vehicle maintenance records and expert assessments may be necessary for establishing fault and seeking compensation for those injured in the accident.

Intoxicated drivers

Rear-end accidents caused by driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DUI) often have devastating consequences. 

When a driver is impaired, his or her ability to react quickly and make sound decisions is severely compromised. Impairment dramatically increases the risk of rear-end collisions due to delayed response times.

Driving under the influence not only endangers the life of the impaired driver but also puts other road users at serious risk. The impact of a rear-end collision caused by a drunk or drugged driver can result in severe injuries, extensive vehicle damage, and even fatalities.

Poorly maintained private roads

When accidents occur on private roads, determining fault can be more complex than on public roads. Private road owners must ensure that their properties are well-maintained and hazard-free in order to prevent accidents.

Private road owners may be responsible if inadequate signage or poor road conditions contribute to a collision. Road owners must take proactive measures to prevent accidents by maintaining their property for drivers.

Broken brake lights

Sometimes, drivers may not realize they have a broken brake light. Broken brake lights make it challenging for a trailing vehicle to anticipate stops from the lead vehicle. 

Mechanical failure can occur for various reasons, including worn brake pads, faulty brake lines, or a malfunctioning brake system. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent these issues, but failure can still occur unexpectedly.


Speeding is a common cause of rear-end accidents, leading to devastating consequences for those involved. 

When drivers exceed the speed limit, they have less time to react to sudden stops by vehicles in front of them. This increased velocity reduces their ability to brake effectively, often resulting in a collision. 

The force generated by high-speed crashes can lead to severe injuries and extensive damage to vehicles.

Distracted driving

One significant cause of rear-end accidents in Utah and across the United States is distracted driving. In Utah, texting while driving may be severely penalized, yet many drivers continue to engage in this risky behavior. 

With the widespread use of smartphones and other electronic devices, drivers may succumb to the temptation of texting, browsing social media, or engaging in other distractions while behind the wheel, increasing the likelihood of a rear-end collision.

New or young drivers

Rear-end accidents caused by new drivers or young drivers can be particularly challenging. These inexperienced drivers may panic and make abrupt steering adjustments, leading to losing control and potential rear-end collisions.

New or young drivers may not have enough experience to develop proper judgment and decision-making skills. Such inexperience can result in overcorrecting when faced with unexpected situations on the road.

One study states that young adults ages 25 to 34 are 1.9 times more likely to be in a rear-end accident. Additionally, new or young drivers may not know how to properly handle their vehicles in certain situations, such as sudden braking or swerving. Such inexperience can also increase the likelihood of overcorrection and rear-end accidents.

Weaving between traffic lanes

Rear-end accidents caused by weaving between traffic lanes can be hazardous for all drivers on the road. Weaving in and out of traffic disrupts the flow and creates unpredictability, leading to potential rear-end crashes.

Drivers who weave between lanes often do so recklessly, disregarding the safety of others around them. This erratic behavior makes it challenging for trailing drivers to anticipate their next move, increasing the likelihood of rear-end collisions.

Additionally, sudden lane changes can startle other motorists and cause panicked reactions that result in accidents.

Common Injuries After a Rear-End Collision

If you have been involved in a rear-end accident, seek immediate medical attention to assess and treat any injuries sustained. Not all injuries are immediately apparent following an accident; some symptoms may manifest days or weeks later.

Car accident injuries can range from minor to severe and include:

  • Whiplash
  • Strains and sprains
  • Contusions
  • Herniated discs, spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries
  • Concussions, traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations, bruises, fractures, dental injuries
  • Psychological trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression

A Utah Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Establish Liability and Seek Justice

At Minton Law Firm, our team of experienced rear-end accident lawyers is dedicated to helping clients navigate the complexities of their cases. We are here to fight for your rights so you can achieve fair compensation for your rear-end accident claim.

We pride ourselves on providing compassionate representation to each client – if we take on your case, we will guide you through every step of the legal process with care. Our philosophy is simple: We believe in advocating fiercely for those who are due to someone else’s negligence.

Don’t face the legal process alone if you were injured in a rear-end collision. Trust Minton Law Firm to be by your side, fighting tirelessly for the justice and compensation you deserve. Call us at 855-Xadjuster or complete our online form to schedule a free review of your car accident case with one of our personal injury attorneys.

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