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Who Is Liable in a New Orleans Rear-End Accident?

Posted in Car Accidents,Distracted Driving,Drunk Driving Accidents,Impaired Driving,Truck Accidents on June 5, 2020

Rear-end collisions occur more often than any other type of crash in New Orleans, throughout Louisiana, and across the nation. The most recent data from the LSU Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation estimates more than 55,000 rear-end collisions occurred in Louisiana in 2019, including more than 15,000 injury crashes and 80 resulting in the death of one or more people. This represents more than 46 percent of all traffic accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities across the state.

Determining liability in a rear-end collision is typically easier than in other types of collisions. Most of the time the rear vehicle is at fault, but not always. Below we provide more information about the drivers typically involved in rear-end accidents, proximate causes for rear-end crashes, and some ways those liable for rear-end collisions try to skirt financial liability.

Rear-end Accident Trends

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has extensively studied rear-end collisions because they occur more often than other types of crashes. The agency’s most recent research reveals common trends with regard to rear-end accidents. For example:

  • Teen drivers cause the most rear-end crashes.
  • As age increases, the likelihood of causing a rear-end collision decreases.
  • Young male drivers are more likely to strike another vehicle in a rear-end crash than young female drivers.
  • Tailgating is NOT the primary cause of a rear-end collision.
  • Most rear-end accidents occur when the lead vehicle is stopped in traffic, of which there is plenty in New Orleans.
  • Most rear-end crashes happen in clear weather conditions.

Common Proximate Causes of Rear-End Collisions

Consider the typical rear-end accident with Driver A in the lead and Driver B following. In the vast majority of cases, Driver B is at fault for striking the rear of Driver A’s vehicle. Driver A hires a personal injury attorney to advocate for her with insurance companies and if necessary, the court. The lawyer will do more than present Driver B struck Driver A, so Driver B is at-fault. The lawyer must prove that Driver B caused the accident by presenting proximate causes for the rear-end accident during settlement negotiations or litigation. Proximate causes refer to causes that aren’t always direct, but they are sufficient for assigning financial liability to the at-fault driver. Common proximate causes of rear-end collisions include:

Distracted Driving

According to the NHTSA, approximately 85 percent of rear-end crashes occur as a result of distracted drivers. Louisiana’s distracted driving law prohibits all handheld use of a phone while driving, including texting, emailing, and manually dialing a phone call. Unfortunately, like many other states, Louisiana’s laws do not explicitly cover other distractions that can lead to rear-end collision or any other type of traffic accident. Examples of other driver distractions that can lead to a rear-end crash include:

  • Adjusting a GPS, climate controls, or other vehicle feature
  • Helping passengers in the backseat, especially young children
  • Reaching for a dropped item in the backseat or on the floor
  • Watching an event, often a car accident, outside the vehicle
  • Brushing hair, flossing, putting on makeup, and performing other personal grooming or hygiene habits
  • Eating and drinking
  • Daydream or partial consciousness

Driving Under the Influence

Drivers must have the ability to accurately judge space and time to avoid a rear-end collision. Consuming alcohol or using drugs impairs this ability and also makes it difficult for a driver to react to a sudden stop, turn, or another maneuver by the car they are following. Drivers who cannot react when necessary often crash into the lead vehicle, causing property damage as well as injury or death.

Drowsy Driving

Drivers who operate their vehicles without getting proper rest put others with whom they share the road at risk for accident, injury, and death. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extensively studied the relationship between sleep and driving. Their research revealed that those who go without 18 hours of sleep suffer from the same level of impairment as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol level. Drowsy drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers, and sometimes worse if they fall asleep at the wheel. Sleepy drivers risk striking the vehicle in front of them. If they completely fall asleep, the speed at which a rear-end accident occurs can be much higher and cause far more injuries to those involved.

Liability in New Orleans Rear-End Accidents

Liability is often clear in rear-end cases and lawyers for plaintiffs present proximate causes to lock in their case. Yet, the at-fault driver’s insurance company and/or the legal team will use every strategy they can to challenge the assumption that the driver in the rear vehicle is at-fault. Examples of strategies the defense might use include:

  • Arguing the lead driver made reckless motions that led to the crash
  • Arguing the lead driver was driving while distracted
  • Arguing the lead driver purposefully applied brakes which led to the collision
  • Arguing the lead driver failed to comply with traffic regulations causing a crash
  • Arguing the lead driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Arguing that someone else was driving the car that hit you

If a Louisiana court finds the lead driver partially to blame for the rear-end collision, the driver can still receive compensation under the law. The court, however, will reduce awarded damages to the plaintiff by the percentage fault of the plaintiff.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer After a New Orleans Rear-End Accident

The experienced legal team at the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC has extensive experience in the negotiation, settlement, and litigation of personal injury cases for clients in New Orleans and across the state. If another driver struck you and caused a rear-end collision, do not take it for granted that he or she is automatically liable. You need a dedicated attorney who will advocate for you and build the strongest case possible against the other driver, while you focus on recovering from your accident injuries.  Contact us today online or at 504-500-5000 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your rear-end accident.