If you were to ask drivers from across the country to give an example of a driver at fault in a car accident, I’d be willing to bet the vast majority of those surveyed would say a driver that rear-ended a car in front of him or her is always at fault. Now while that is normally an apt representation of liability in a motor vehicle accident, it is not a 100% guarantee of liability.
While hitting another vehicle from the rear always carries at least some degree of negligence, there are certain types of rear-end collisions where the driver of the tailing vehicle is not the one who is mostly at fault. That is not to say that a tailing driver is free from liability completely, it is just that there are cases where the person who is rear-ended might be more at fault than the driver who actually hit the lead car.
The starting presumption is that the tailing driver is the at-fault party in a rear-end collision, but that fault can be reapportioned and even overcome if the tailing driver can prove that the lead driver breached his or her duty of reasonable care in operating his or her vehicle in a more negligent manner. Here is how this plays out and where it gets confusing. Mississippi is what is known as a Comparative Fault state; what that means is that the parties in an accident can both be partially at fault based on their actions. Because both parties are partially at fault, the Plaintiff will have his or her recovery reduced by the percentage he or she is found to be at fault.
Say for instance a car is following behind a truck pulling a trailer full of scrap metal on dark night and the driver of the truck hits his brakes but the car behind it doesn’t see that because the trailer’s lights are out and as a result, the trailing car runs into the trailer. In that situation, the car’s driver is not the only party at fault. A jury could even find that the driver of the truck and trailer is the more negligent party. Another instance of the tailing driver possibly not having the majority of fault would be if the front car driver failed to use turn signals and as a result the tail driver ran into the car’s back. While the tail car would be negligent for following too closely, the lead car’s apportionment of the fault might be greater. These are very fact-driven scenarios where one key fact might make all the difference in determining percentage of liability.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a rear-end collision in Mississippi due to malfunctioning brake lights or improper use of turn signals, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at ‘Maggio|Thompson.
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