Someone crashed into the back of my car, whose fault is it?


"Someone crashed into the back of my car, whose fault is it?" - this is one of the most common questions asked after being involved in a car accident, but is ever the fault of the car in front?

Someone crashed into the back of my car, whose fault is it?

It has become a rule of thumb that, in the event of a car accident, if someone crashes into the back of you it is their fault. If you are rear ended and your car is hit from behind the car accident is the fault (or liability) of the driver of the car that crashed into the back of you. If you have been injured you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Visit our Road Traffic Accident section to find out how we have helped people win compensation for whiplash or other injuries after they have been hit from behind by another car.

There have been cases where the car in front stopped abruptly causing the car behind to slam on the brakes and be crashed into the back of; but only when this has been on purpose, i.e. to cause a crash so they can make a claim, has the blame ever not been on the car behind. The truth is, if you have been crashed into the back of and been injured you should speak to a solicitor right away as you may be able to claim compensation for your road traffic accident. Contact us now on 0808 129 3320 to find out if you have a claim if you have been in an accident and injured after a car has crashed into the back of you.

Car Accident: Hit From Behind

The recent case of Steadman v London United Busways Ltd v Sala proves it is still incredibly rare for courts to blame the driver of the car in front when its been hit from behind. It was brought by a passenger who was seriously injured and made a bus accident claim. In 2010 6,268 people were injured due to an accident involving a bus or coach, and thousands of passengers suffer bus injuries and make a compensation claim after bus accidents. While straight forward, this claim has lessons for all drivers:

Valerie Steadman was a passenger on a bus travelling along Kensington High Street in West London. In front of the bus was a Ferrari sports car, driven by Mr Sala. When the driver of the bus braked abruptly it threw Mrs Steadman from her seat and she suffered serious injuries to her spinal cord, leaving here with tetraplegia.

Mrs Steadman made a claim against the bus company, London United Busways, claiming it was the fault of the bus driver that she had suffered her accident. The driver of the bus said that he had been forced to make an emergency stop because the car in front stopped abruptly and without warning, therefore to avoid a bus crash the bus driver had done the same. He claimed the Ferrari driver should have realised the bus was close behind and it wasn't safe for him to brake the way that he did.

The court had to decide if the cause of the accident was the fault of the Ferrari or of the bus driver.

Hit From Behind: Who is at Fault?

Mrs Justice Smith had to consider a lot evidence from both parties, witnesses to the accident, experts and CCTV footage.

She came to the decision it was the bus driver's fault Mrs Steadman had been injured because he'd slammed on his brakes. It wasn't the fault of the driver in front because he had no obligation to keep the bus in his vision at all the times - the main focus of any driver has to be what is happening in front of them.

She had been unimpressed with the bus driver's evidence and concluded that he had been impatient (he admitted he had already sounded his horn a number of times), and had failed to notice the Ferrari beginning to slow down. She also stated, after reviewing the evidence, that the Ferrari had been driving conservatively in order to conserve fuel, was alert to traffic around him and did not brake suddenly or without warning. Finally, she concluded that the bus was being driven too close to the car in front, not giving its driver enough time to react to what was happening in front of him.

There are lessons that can be learned from this case for all drivers.

Even if the Ferrari had braked without warning, the bus driver behind would probably still be partly to blame for the accident. While driving the obligation is always to be aware of what is happening in front of you - and this is the same for all drivers. A driver can't be expected to give equal concern to the car behind as it does the road in front.

Can a Car Accident Ever be the Fault of the Car in Front?

There is a situation when the driver of a vehicle that crashes into the back of someone isn't their fault. This is when it is caused by the driver in front on purpose, to make a fraudulent insurance and/or compensation claim, often for whiplash, after being crashed into the back of. The usual scenario is that an accomplice will drive in front of a vehicle that is being driven in front of a third vehicle. The first vehicle performs an emergency stop, as does the second vehicle, causing the third to rear end shunt the second vehicle. This concertina-effect leaves the first vehicle to drive away and the second to make a claim against the third. Only when it can be proved that the drivers of the first and second vehicle are in cahoots can all liability be absolved of the driver behind.

It is believed that such 'arranged' car accidents cost insurers £4 million a week, leading to the setting up of the Insurance Fraud Bureau to investigate all claims of insurance fraud.

At Simpson Millar LLP (formerly Colemans) our Motor department can help you if you have been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn't your fault. If someone crashed into the back of your car or were rear ended into another car and suffered an injury you may be able to claim compensation. We have a wide range of experience on injury compensation claims after a car accident and can help you. Our personal injury lawyers can also help if you win compensation if you are a passenger who has been injured in a bus crash or other bus accident.

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