Being involved in a serious car accident can be stressful. Even if you don’t believe that you’re at fault for the accident, you’ll probably be asked by the police and various insurance agencies to provide a great deal of information about the circumstances surrounding the incident. If you were injured in the crash, you would probably prefer not to deal with such matters. Even if you feel fine, you might be emotionally “shaken up” or worried about the cost of repairing your damaged vehicle. In either case, you might be understandably reticent to engage in lengthy “on the record” conversations with certain authority figures.
Unfortunately, such conversations are a necessary aspect of post-accident investigations. Although rear-end crashes are among the most common and clear-cut types of automobile accidents, they still must be investigated to the fullest possible extent. If you’ve recently been rear-ended by another driver, you’ll need to remember a few key points.
Crucially, you’re unlikely to be held liable for being rear-ended. In most jurisdictions, fault is assigned to the “second” driver in a rear-end accident. The driver who sustained damage to the rear end of his or her car is virtually never deemed to be at fault for a rear-end accident.
There are some occasional exceptions to these general guidelines. If you were engaging in an illegal maneuver at the moment of impact, you may be held fully or partially liable for the accident. This is particularly common in freeway “slow lanes.” If you’re stopped in a traffic lane or traveling slower than the posted minimum speed without mitigating factors like traffic jams or disabled vehicles ahead, you’re technically in violation of the law. If you’re rear-ended while engaged in such an activity, you’ll be issued a traffic citation for your actions and held liable for the accident. Once you file an insurance claim for this accident, your rates will almost certainly rise.
Likewise, your insurance rates could go up for matters unrelated to the rear-end accident. After the accident, the officer charged with investigating the matter could choose to issue a secondary citation that has no bearing on his or her determination of fault. This could come in the form of a speeding ticket, “failure to signal” citation or other moving violation. Even if your insurer doesn’t hold you responsible for the actual crash, it might nevertheless raise your rates as a result of this ticket.