As a personal injury lawyer one of the most common types of claim you will deal with is one where your client has brought their car to a stop. It may be due to a red traffic light or at a give way junction. All of a sudden (or “suddenly and without warning” as we say with traditional regularity) another vehicle collides with the rear of your client’s vehicle. In most cases fault for the accident will lie with the driver of the car that has struck your client’s stationary vehicle as they have failed to maintain a safe stopping distance. However, is this always the case?
The conscientious solicitor should always be satisfied that fault for an accident lies with another party and not with their client. In a rear end collision there can be situations where the accident was caused by another individual and not by the driver of the vehicle that collides with the rear of a stationary (or slower moving) vehicle. Such situations could include:-
- A pedestrian or possibly even a dog runs onto the road. A driver carries out an emergency stop to avoid hitting them. The vehicle following behind is unable to slow down or stop and collides with the stationary vehicle. In that situation the driver of the vehicle behind could argue that the accident was caused wholly or at least partly by the pedestrian or owner of the dog.
- A car driver overtakes a slower moving vehicle and pulls back in front of the vehicle and brakes. This manoeuvre reduces the stopping distance of the vehicle that has been overtaken causing it to collide with the vehicle in front. The solicitor of the driver that was overtaken could argue that the accident was caused by negligence on the part of the overtaking driver.
- Where the weather is poor and road conditions are icy it could be argued that the driver of a vehicle that slips or skids on black ice and collides with a stationary vehicle has not been negligent. The court may find that the accident was caused by the road conditions and not by a lack of care and attention on the part of the other driver.
- The vehicle ahead could be reversing when the collision occurs. An example of this would be when the driver of a vehicle starts to enter a roundabout. They may become concerned by the speed of vehicles on the roundabout that are approaching from their right. It is not unheard of for a driver to reverse and collide with the vehicle behind which has moved forward towards the roundabout entrance.
- The driver of a car may simply stop suddenly and unexpectedly, giving the driver behind insufficient time to bring their vehicle to a safe stop, resulting in a collision.
The last example was recently considered in the case of O’Donnell –v- Smith & Royal & Sun Alliance  SC EDIN 68 which was summarised by Jennifer Rowlinson of our office in a recent article. In that case a car driver was found fully to blame for an accident where she had stopped suddenly, giving the following motorcyclist no opportunity to avoid colliding with her vehicle.
While most rear end collision will be the fault of the driver at the back, as highlighted above, this will not always be the case. If you have been in an accident but consider it was caused by another individual then please contact our experienced team on 0333 222 1855 who will be able to investigate the matter and fully advise you on the likelihood of making a successful claim.