Non-lawyers are sometimes surprised to hear that there is not a law in the State of Texas saying that if one driver rear-ends another driver, the vehicle in the rear is automatically at fault. Put another way, it is not Texas law that the rear-ending vehicle is always in the wrong. Certainly it is usually the case that the vehicle that did the rear-ending is faulted, but there are some circumstances where that would not apply. For example, vehicle A makes a sudden lane change in front of vehicle B and the driver of vehicle A suddenly slams on her brakes, causing vehicle B to rear-end her.
Section 545.062 of the Texas Transportation Code is the Texas law that is most applicable to rear-end crashes. It says: “An operator shall, if following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway.”
In a rear-end collision investigated by a police officer, the driver who did the rear-ending is usually faulted (or ticketed) in the police report for what is known as failure to control speed. This means that the rear-ending driver did not maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front and was unable to reduce their speed in time to avoid a collision. Rear-end crashes can happen for many reasons, including excessive speed, failure to pay attention, distracted driving including cell phone use and texting, driving while intoxicated and negligent maintenance such as driving on defective brakes.
Even though it may seem crystal clear to you that the other driver who ran into the back of you is responsible for your rear-end car accident, the other driver’s insurance company may not see it the same way. The other driver may tell her insurance company that you stopped suddenly, cut them off or some other excuse. It doesn’t take much for an insurance company to decide to deny a claim, even on a rear-end crash. If you have been injured due to another driver’s negligence in causing a rear-end collision, call or email Houston Injury Attorney Daragh John M. Carter now or submit your case online for a no charge, no obligation case evaluation.
(left) This severe rear-end collision happened in February 2004 on the West 610 Loop S. in Houston near the Galleria. The driver of the dark colored Mercury Grand Marquis failed to control his speed and struck the rear of the purple BMW that was stopped for backed-up traffic.
(left) The driver of the totaled BMW was Daragh Carter's wife, out running errands on a Saturday morning. The BMW was knocked completely across all lanes of 610 from the far right side to the concrete center median, and was struck by another vehicle midway across.