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Determining Fault in a Rear-End Accident in Pennsylvania

Posted on 06/26/23

A rear-end collision occurs when the front end of a vehicle collides with the back of the car ahead of it while they are both traveling in the same direction. A statistical review of car accidents in Pennsylvania was completed in 2022 by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Their findings conclude that:

  • Approximately 19.4% of crashes were rear-end crashes, making them the third most common type of car accident in PA.
  • Young drivers are more likely to be involved in rear-end accidents than older drivers.
  • While rear-end accidents are less likely to result in fatalities than other types of crashes, they still accounted for 7.6% of car-related fatalities in 2022.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a rear-end accident in Pennsylvania, you must speak to a knowledgeable West Chester rear-end accident lawyer today, as you may be entitled to compensation to cover damages incurred from the accident. These damages may include anything from property damage to medical bills to pain and suffering.

No-Fault Insurance Rules in Pennsylvania

Most U.S. states are “fault” states, meaning that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for any compensation owed to victims. Pennsylvania, however, is one of just a few states with “no-fault” laws. This means that everyone involved in the accident collects compensation from their own insurance company, regardless of who is at fault.

Not only is Pennsylvania a no-fault state, but it’s also a “choice no-fault” state. This means that insurance policyholders can choose between fault or no-fault rules when they purchase coverage. Unfortunately, this means that auto insurance laws can become somewhat complicated. Here’s what Pennsylvania no-fault insurance rules look like at a glance:

  • Policyholders can choose between two options when purchasing auto insurance: limited tort and full tort (or no-fault rules and fault rules, respectively). Limited tort coverage is often less expensive and more limited than full tort coverage.
  • Policyholders who choose a limited tort system will need to file a claim with their insurance provider in the event of a car accident, even if the policyholder is not at fault.
  • Limited tort policies usually cover compensation for medical bills or lost wages. However, they will not usually disperse non-economic damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress except in special cases.
  • Full tort allows the policyholder to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages from the accident.
  • Policyholders can select a tort option at the time they purchase their insurance and may change that option whenever they renew their auto insurance plan.

How is Fault Determined in a Rear-End Accident?

Some of the most common causes of rear-end accidents include driving while distracted, driving too close to the car in front, and speeding. Title 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3310 states that drivers “shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon the condition of the highway.” Likewise, 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3361 requires all motor vehicle drivers to operate at a safe and appropriate speed, bearing in mind the conditions of the road, the vehicle, and the environment.

Most people mistakenly assume that the rear driver is always at fault in a rear-end collision, and in cases of speeding or tailgating, this is often the case. However, there are many other cases in which the rear driver may not be totally at fault. This may happen if:

  • The front driver moves suddenly into the road (such as by switching lanes or reversing out of a driveway) without proper warning.
  • The front car is operating with broken or faulty brake lights.
  • There is poor visibility on the road.
  • There are inclement weather conditions, such as snow or ice.
  • An unexpected road hazard appears (such as wildlife or large debris from another vehicle).
  • The road itself is defective or ill-maintained.
  • One of the vehicles experienced a malfunction due to a defective product.
  • There is a chain collision crash involving multiple cars. In this case, those cars in the middle of the crash are less likely to be at fault.

Even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you may still be able to collect compensation. As long as you are not more than 50% responsible for the accident, you may be eligible for a reduced settlement to help cover some of your costs.

One of the best ways that you can protect yourself and your interests after a rear-end accident is to hire a seasoned lawyer who can help you determine fault and guide you through the process of filing a claim.

How to Handle Insurance Companies After An Accident

Working with your insurance company after a rear-end accident can be frustrating. This is because insurance companies are in business to make a profit and so want to offer the smallest payout possible after an accident.

For that reason, we recommend engaging a seasoned attorney immediately after your accident. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate negotiations with your insurance company and other agencies, ensuring you receive maximum compensation for your case.

If you have been involved in a rear-end accident, follow these recommendations regarding dealing with insurance companies:

1. Contact your lawyer as soon as possible. Do so before speaking to any insurance agencies.

2. Don’t feel obligated to speak to an insurance adjuster. You may make a statement about the accident, but in doing so, you may inadvertently harm your case. Do not feel pressured into accepting a settlement early in your case — oftentimes the first offer is quite low.

3. Do not sign a medical release form. This allows the insurance company to look through your medical history and may harm your case.

The best course of action following a rear-end accident is to get in touch with a personal injury attorney who can help you through the process of filing a claim, gathering evidence of fault, and negotiating compensation. Remember that while you have the freedom to do these things yourself, you’re more likely to receive maximum compensation when you work with an attorney. The period following a car accident should be reserved for rest and healing — trust your lawyer to help you work through the legal process while you recover from your injuries.

How Can Wilk Law Help?

Car accidents are stressful and confusing. This is even more true if you have been injured in an accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in a rear-end accident, you can engage a car accident lawyer to assist you in making a claim and recovering damages. Don’t take on the added stress of managing an injury case — partner with a knowledgeable attorney for the representation you deserve.

When you work with a lawyer, they will:

  • Offer affordable legal aid. Most lawyers are paid on a contingency basis, meaning they won’t get paid unless you win your case. Furthermore, the amount your lawyer is paid is often contingent on the amount you are awarded. This means that your lawyer has another incentive to work hard to ensure you receive the best outcome possible for your case.
  • Investigate and document your case. Your attorney will be responsible for gathering evidence about your case so that together you can determine the best way to present your claim. Additionally, your lawyer will also keep track of deadlines throughout the process.
  • Negotiate compensation for your losses. A good lawyer will examine all economic and non-economic damages to accurately calculate the value of your claim. If the insurance agency does not agree to your claim, your lawyer will help you file a lawsuit.
  • Act as an intermediary. As you focus on your health, your attorney will act as your spokesperson for your insurance company, the other person’s insurance company, and other relevant entities. This can help protect you from lengthy claims processes, unjust accusations, and denied claims.
  • Represent you in court. If your case does go to court, you can depend upon your lawyer to offer professional representation that will be more likely to contribute to a successful case.

West Chester Rear-End Accident Lawyer

At Wilk Law, we’re dedicated to protecting your rights, ensuring that your personal injury case is successful, and providing you with the resources you need throughout your case. Clients across West Chester rely on our rear-end accident lawyers to handle each case with the utmost care and passion. This is a standard that we’re happy to exceed.

If you’re wondering who is at fault in a rear-end car accident in Pennsylvania, or need assistance making a claim, don’t wait to reach out for help. You may be entitled to compensation for any damages incurred, and our team is here to help you receive it.

Every case is unique, but we have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you fight for your right to justice. Whether you’ve been the victim of another person’s negligence, have lost a loved one to an accident, or have legal questions about a personal injury, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.


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