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Is the driver behind always at fault in a rear-end collision?


In Idaho, all drivers are required to maintain a safe distance from the driver in front of them so they're able to stop or slow down if the lead driver needs to do so suddenly. Because of this traffic law, when a driver in the rear hits the back end of the vehicle in front of him, he will almost always be considered at fault.

This means the other person’s insurance company may not dispute his liability, although it could still raise arguments about the extent of your injuries.

However, you still need to be prepared to prove the other driver’s negligence in your rear-end collision. There are some cases where the driver in the rear is not the negligent party.

When Could the Front Driver Be Negligent in a Rear-End Crash?

There are a number of situations when the driver rear-ended is at fault or at least partially at fault in causing the accident:

  • He reversed suddenly, which sometimes occurs at intersections.
  • He stopped or slowed suddenly to make a right turn but then proceeds to go straight.
  • His brake lights didn't work or one of the lights was out.
  • His vehicle’s tire went flat or he had another mechanical failure, but he failed to pull over or turn on his hazard lights.
  • He swerved suddenly in front of the driver in the rear, such as improperly changing lanes.
  • He stopped in a road but failed to put out flares, turn on his hazard lights, or otherwise warn other motorists of his presence.
  • He slammed on his brakes at an intersection for a reason he should have anticipated, such as an obvious light change or a pedestrian who had the right of way.

What Happens if the Driver in the Lead Is Partially at Fault?

Idaho uses a modified comparative negligence approach when the rear-ended victim is partially at fault in causing the crash. The following rules apply:

  • The victim is only entitled to compensation if the other driver’s fault exceeds his own fault.
  • If the other driver was not 51 percent or more negligent in a two-vehicle crash, the person injured is not entitled to any compensation.
  • If the victim was less than 50 percent at fault, his compensation would be reduced by his percentage of fault. For example, if he was 10 percent at fault and he suffered $300,000 in losses, he would be entitled to $270,000.


Even if you were partially at fault in causing your rear-end collision, the value of your claim could be substantial. An experienced car accident attorney can advise you how your comparative negligence could impact your case and help you to obtain the settlement you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.