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Missouri Sunset

Who is at fault in rear-end car accidents?

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Posted on March 16, 2021

Rear-end vehicle accidents happen more frequently than other types of accidents in Missouri and around the country. In most rear-end accidents, one vehicle hits another non-moving vehicle, sometimes at high speeds. The driver who hit another vehicle from behind is commonly liable by default, but it depends on the circumstance.


Statistics show that rear-end accidents make up 29% of traffic accidents, which commonly occur from negligence. Negligence means that the responsible party’s actions fell below what a reasonable person would have done in a similar circumstance.

Drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers by following traffic laws and using good judgment to avoid accidents. For example, they should exercise good judgment in inclement weather, even driving below the speed limit if necessary for safety. The driver in front may not anticipate a stop and have to brake suddenly to avoid a hazard.

Drivers who hit another vehicle from behind are often considered partly negligent because they should maintain a safe following distance behind vehicles. Missouri law states that a driver cannot follow a vehicle closer than reasonably necessary.

Establishing fault

The plaintiff in a car accident case must prove that the other driver breached their duty of care and caused the accident. Since establishing fault is often complex, most states including Missouri apply no-doubt liability or the rear-end collision doctrine. This law allows the front driver to claim that they had a right to operate the vehicle, they operated the vehicle correctly, and the defendant hit them from behind. If they can establish these three factors, the court will commonly side with the plaintiff.

However, the rear driver may not always be at fault, such as if the driver suddenly reversed or had defective taillights. Missouri uses comparative fault, which allows both parties to share a percentage of the fault. The percentage of fault gets deducted from compensation in a personal injury case.

Some insurance providers settle car accidents out of court, but they commonly make low-ball offers. A provider might even try to get out of claims by saying that the injured party is faking, so the plaintiff may need an attorney to negotiate offers and establish proof of their injuries.