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Who is at Fault for a Rear-End Collision in Missouri?

You may have heard that the driver of the trailing vehicle is always at fault for rear-end accidents. While it’s certainly true that the rear driver is often at fault for these kinds of crashes, there are cases where the driver of the front vehicle can be held liable. As a result, you should always speak to an experienced lawyer after a rear-end accident, regardless of whether you were in the front or the rear vehicle.

Missouri Law on Rear-End Collisions

Under Missouri case law, there is a presumption that the driver of the rear vehicle is at fault for a rear end accident. This rule is known as the rear-end collision doctrine, and is expressed as follows:

if one person has his vehicle in a portion of the highway where he should have it or is entitled to have it in view of the course in which he is proceeding, and some other person traveling behind him in the same direction overtakes him and permits his vehicle to run into the rear of the one ahead, the proof of a collision under such circumstances makes out a prima facie case of specific negligence against such other person in charge of the overtaking vehicle.

What this means is that after a rear-end accident, any injuries that the driver and any occupants of the front vehicle will be legally entitled to compensation for their injuries, unless the driver of the rear vehicle can show that the accident was actually caused by the negligence of the driver of the front vehicle.

When is the Driver of the Front Vehicle at Fault for a Rear-End Collision?

There are many scenarios in which the driver of the front vehicle can be held liable after a rear-end collision. Some of the more common include:

  • Driving a vehicle with malfunctioning brake lights
  • Stopping in traffic suddenly and unnecessarily
  • Improper lane changes
  • Carelessly merging onto the highway
  • Brake-checking

Comparative Fault in Missouri

In some rear-end collision cases, both drivers are partially at fault for an accident. For example, if a rear-end crash occurred when the driver of the front vehicle brake checked a driver who was following too closely, it’s likely that both drivers would be deemed partially liable. Missouri is a comparative fault state, which means that a person’s recovery reduced by the percentage of fault. For instance, if the brake checking driver in the above scenario is deemed to have been 70 percent at fault and sustained $100,000 in damages, he or she would only receive $30,000 (70 percent of $100,000 is $70,000, and $100,000 – $70,000 equals $30,000.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in a rear-end collision in Missouri or Illinois, you should contact Bruntrager & Billings as soon as you can. Our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to helping injured victims get the compensation they deserve. To schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer, call our office today at (314) 646-0066 or send us an email through our online contact form.

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