Assessing fault in a rear-end collision
The law of vehicular control is central to unraveling any Pennsylvania auto accident, but this is not as simple as many people think. It is true that many drivers who are involved in a collision and strike other vehicles from the rear are at fault to some degree, but merely being the vehicle in a rear position during a collision does not constitute automatic fault. The other drivers must have their vehicles under control as well, including performing driving actions within the rules and regulations of the road.
All motor vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania are investigated by state accident reconstruction law enforcement personnel who will issue an official accident report. The report is used by the court system when a case goes to trial unless a settlement is reached beforehand among all involved parties. The negotiating parties will settle based on a level of comparative negligence as determined by the official report unless any legal counsel contests liability based on the comparative negligence percentage assigned to any particular driver.
How attorneys impact a comparative negligence determination
The official accident report may not be the final word in determining who is at fault for an accident. Fault assessment may focus primarily on the driver coming from the rear, but the actions of those in front such as stopping quickly or turning without giving a signal can change the final determination. This often occurs when a case is heard in court contesting the shared fault allocation. Pennsylvania motor vehicle accident lawyers representing any driver can conduct independent accident investigations looking for details that can reduce negligence percentages for their clients.
The reason this matters is because Pennsylvania implements a disqualification for financial recovery for injured drivers who are more than 51% at fault for a collision. In a two-car accident that is not determined to have equal shared fault, the driver with the greater negligence percentage is typically denied any financial recovery or standing to sue. This means that minor details can make a major difference when the accident case is being settled for those who are driving in the rear position.