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Can I be found liable if my car is rear-ended in a Pennsylvania crash?



One of the most enduring myths about car accidents is that a person who has been rear-ended in a crash is never liable for the accident. While this is true a majority of the time, there are certain exceptions to the rule.

An Overview of Rear-End Crash Liability

Every driver is required to maintain a safe driving distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them. If a driver is acting irresponsibly-i.e. texting while driving, speeding-they may not be paying enough attention or fail to leave a safe following distance, which can lead to a rear-end crash.

If you've been struck by another car in a rear-end crash, you likely have seen how the damage to the back of your vehicle coupled with the damage to the other driver's front-end make a pretty clear argument for what happened in the accident.

If you have suffered serious injuries in your rear-end accident-for instance, whip-lash, one of the most common injuries in a rear-end crash-you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the other driver in order to collect compensation for your accident injuries, medical bills and property damage.

When a Rear-End Crash is Partially Your Fault

As stated, there are some exceptions to the rear-end crash liability rule-of-thumb. You may be found at least partially liable for your rear-end crash if your actions contributed to the accident. A few examples of this include:

  • If you experienced car trouble on I-295 and you had to stop your vehicle, but failed to move out of the way of traffic.
  • Your brake and/or tail-lights do not properly work.

These factors could mean that you are partially liable for the rear-end crash.

Comparative Negligence Laws & Your Accident Claim

Pennsylvania observes what is known as a modified comparative fault system with a 51% rule. This means that you can be partially liable for your rear-end crash and still recover damages through an injury claim as long as your fault is not found to be more than 50%. If your fault was 50% or less, you will still be eligible for damages, but your award will be reduced by your own degree of fault.

Example: You were driving through Germantown and suddenly braked for an animal running across the street, but the driver behind you was so distracted by talking on his cell phone that he failed to stop. The rear-end crash was severe and left you with serious neck injuries and extensive vehicle damage. Suppose one of your brake lights wasn't working, and the defense presents this evidence to the court. The judge finds you 20% liable for the accident and the plaintiff 80% at fault. If the award was $40,000, you would receive $32,000.

Contacting a Philadelphia Injury Lawyer

Even the most seemingly cut-and-dried accident claims can present challenges and surprises, such as issues of rear-end crash liability. That is why it is wise to seek help from a qualified legal team, particularly when high medical bills are at stake. A Philadelphia injury lawyer at White & Williams LLP can help you determine issues of liability in a Pennsylvania accident and ensure that your best interests are covered. Contact us today - 1-877-944-8396.

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