Rear-end accidents or collisions are one of the most common and dangerous types of car accidents. If you have been rear-ended by another vehicle, you may have a good case for recovering personal injury damages, including damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages or loss of earning potential.
A rear-end accident occurs when the front of one vehicle strikes the rear of another. This can happen for any number of reasons, but some of the most common are:
- Distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, or eating while driving;
- Rain, snow, ice, or other bad weather;
- Sun glare;
- Sudden stopping;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI); and
- Falling asleep at the wheel.
What Law Applies in Rear-End Accident Cases?
The law of negligence applies to most personal injury lawsuits arising from traffic accidents, including rear-end collisions. In order to succeed on a negligence claim, the injured party, called the plaintiff, must establish four elements:
- Duty – The defendant, the party against whom the lawsuit is brought, owed the plaintiff a duty of care. All drivers owe other drivers a duty of reasonable care. Although this concept is vague, it is commonly defined as exercising the care, attention, or caution that a reasonable person would exercise.
- Breach – The defendant breached – or failed to exercise – his or her duty.
- Causation – The defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Injury – The plaintiff suffered some sort of physical or emotional injury.
If the plaintiff proves the above four elements, he or she will likely succeed in a personal injury case, unless the defendant can mount a successful defense.
Special Rules in North Carolina
North Carolina is one of only a few states that follow the rule of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence dictates that, if the plaintiff was at all negligent, he or she will not be able to recover damages. Even if the plaintiff’s negligence contributed only a tiny bit to causing the accident, they are nonetheless completely barred from recovery.
Fortunately, plaintiffs can often recover damages in rear-end accident cases, since all drivers maintain a duty to brake and yield to the car in front of them. A defense of contributory negligence could include faulty brake lights on the plaintiff’s vehicle, or that the plaintiff accidently accelerated in reverse.
Contact an Experienced Rear-End Collision Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a rear-end collision in North Carolina or South Carolina, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.