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How Do You Prove Fault in a Rear End Collision?

Car accidents are disorientating experiences. Many people immediately struggle with pain and need emergency services to come out and rescue them. After being stabilized in the hospital, they aren’t sure what steps to take next. They have many questions, and the first step for many is to search for helpful information online.

Call Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C. instead. We have decades of legal experience helping rear-end collision victims obtain compensation to cover a variety of expenses, including car repairs and medical bills. Our Waterloo car accident lawyers are eager to listen to your story in a free consultation and advise on the best path forward for your case.

Rear-end End Collision Injuries

These are common fender benders. We often see them at intersections or in parking lots, where traffic is congested. In addition to car damage, occupants might suffer serious bodily injuries:

  • Whiplash
  • Neck fracture
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
  • Heart contusion or other chest injuries
  • Spinal injuries

Even low-speed accidents can “jolt” a person and cause pinched nerves and other disabilities. You should immediately stop after an accident and call the police to report the crash.

Why Fault Matters

If you want compensation, you need to prove who is at fault for the crash. In Iowa, that means establishing another driver bears most of the blame for the accident happening.

Technically, you can still seek compensation if you are partially to blame, but you can’t be more than 50% at fault, That’s the rule found in Iowa Code § 668.3. It states that your contributory negligence isn’t a bar so long as it is not a greater percentage than all defendants.

Evidence matters. Of course, if you are driving a car, you are a witness to the accident. Your testimony is important. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters will believe you have a strong incentive to tell a self-serving story. They might think you minimize your own fault because you want compensation.

It helps to have other evidence.

Who is At Fault for Your Rear End Collision?

Rear end collisions typically involve two vehicles. One car is in front, and the second is right behind it. The car behind crashes into the one in front, with all occupants potentially suffering serious injuries.

You might think the driver of the car in the back is always to blame. But that’s not a hard-and-fast legal rule. Instead, we need to understand what caused the accident.

For example, the driver of the car in front could be at fault for:

  • Cutting off the car behind
  • Checking the brakes for no reason
  • Making an illegal lane change
  • Backing up without using their mirrors
  • In other cases, the driver of the car behind is at fault for:
  • Distracted driving
  • Tailgating
  • Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
  • Road rage

In our experience, the driver of the car in the back is usually to blame. But you still need evidence to help everyone see how it happened.

Evidence for a Rear-End Collision

If you are involved in a crash, you should immediately stop your vehicle. The law requires it. You also want some pictures of the cars in the seconds after a collision.

Documenting an accident at the scene is critical. Evidence will disappear if you don’t move fast. Of course, if you are badly injured, you probably can’t get out of your car, and that’s perfectly fine. Safety first. Call an ambulance for anyone who needs one or ask someone else if you are in such pain you can’t move.

However, those who can move around should try to document the accident with the following steps:

1.       Speak with witnesses who stop. Ask for their name, as well as some way to reach them. They can tell us what they saw.

2.       Call the police and report the accident. An officer should visit the scene to create an accident report. The officer might also speak to witnesses, which is great if you feel too much pain.

3.       Photograph where the cars ended up after the crash. Also take photos of each side of the vehicles. This photographic evidence will document how the two cars came together.

4.       Write down anything the other driver says, such as an apology or admission they weren’t paying attention.

5.       Swap personal and insurance information with the other driver. You’ll need this information to make a claim.

This evidence will disappear if you don’t record it immediately after the crash.

How We Prove Fault

As your Waterloo car accident attorneys, we have the task of proving fault for the crash. We can rely on the evidence you found (listed above), but we can also dig to find other evidence:

  • Cell phone records. If you think the other driver was distracted, we can request copies of their cell records, which should show when they were on the phone. This is powerful proof a driver was not paying attention and is at fault.
  • Video evidence. Maybe this accident happened right outside a store, which could have outside security cameras pointed at the parking lot. We can request this evidence to use to establish what happened.
  • Toxicology results. The driver who caused the crash could be drunk or high. The responding police officer could have requested a breath or urine sample. We can request this evidence for use in your claim.

Based on our analysis of all evidence, we construct a theory of what happened. We can then present this theory when demanding compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. We will also negotiate how to allocate fault if the other side believes our client was partially to blame.

You Deserve an Experienced Waterloo Car Accident Lawyer

Rear end collisions send hundreds of people to the hospital each year, and many of them have large expenses as a result. For help with your car accident claim, give Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C. a call. We have offices in Waterloo and Iowa City, and we’ll visit you if that’s necessary. Our consultations are without cost or obligation.