Who is at fault for a rear collision?

Who is at fault for a rear end collision graphic

Rear end collisions and are very common in Australia and they count for a large number of accidents.

The default position in the rear end collision is usually to assume that the driver that impacted the car in front is usually at fault. However this is not always the case is sometimes a vehicle in front can be at fault.

Which party is at fault in a rear end collision?

Determining who is at fault for rear end collision is important in Victoria for two reasons.

  • The first is for insurance purposes. Usually, the at fault drivers insurance company (if they have insurance, or them if they don’t) is responsible for compensating the other party.
  • The second reason is that if you wish to pursue TAC compensation, if you are injured, then you will need to prove that another party was at fault for your accident.

Are you always at fault if you hit a car from behind?

No. It’s more common for the car following to be at fault than the lead car. However, there are number of considerations when determining whether the vehicle that was following the lead vehicle might be at fault.

  • Was the following driver distracted in any way? For example, were they texting or on the phone or eating or otherwise not paying attention to the traffic in front of them?
  • Was the driver travelling too close to the vehicle in front? This is a common cause of accidents in Victoria.
  • Falling asleep.
  • Negligent car maintenance such as brakes not maintained or bald tyres.
  • Was the driver under the influence?

When is the vehicle in front likely to be at fault for the accident?

  • Sudden breaking
  • Reversing into the car behind
  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving with broken brake lights or taillights
  • Sudden changing of lanes
  • Failing to pay attention to the traffic conditions. For example, they may be driving distracted and not notice vehicles in front of them have slowed down or stopped, causing them to break suddenly.
  • Pulling out in front of another vehicle.

Are both parties responsible?

It may in fact be that both vehicles are somewhat to blame for an accident. For example, it may be that one vehicle is determined to be 30% responsible for the accident and another 70% responsible.

The opinion of police if they attended the scene and produced an accident report will be very important in determining who is at fault for a rear end collision.

Also important will be the comments and statements of any witnesses who saw the accident or witnessed the events leading up to the accident.

The final thing that will be important is any statements made by you and the other driver. 

What can I claim by way of compensation after a rear end collision in Victoria?

You’re able to claim TAC benefits regardless as to whether you were in the lead car or the vehicle following the lead car.

You are also able to claim benefits regardless as to whether you were at fault for the accident or not.

However, fault will impact what you’re actually entitled to claim.

If it is determined that you were at fault for the accident, then you will still be entitled to claim payment of medical expenses if you need them for the treatment of any injuries sustained in the accident and claim income replacement benefits if your ability to work has been impacted.

In addition, you are also able to pursue a claim for impairment benefits which is a lump sum claim that people are able to pursue if they are left with a permanent impairment as a consequence of a motor vehicle accident. This is the case even if they are at fault for the accident.

If someone else was at fault for the accident, you are able to claim the above entitlements and in addition, you might be entitled to pursue a common law claim for damages.

In order to claim common law damages, you need to demonstrate that you have a serious injury is a consequence of the rear end collision. You also need to show fault on behalf of another party.

If you were at fault for the accident then you will not be entitled to pursue a common law claim for damages.