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Liability in Rear-end Collisions in Missouri

Rear end collision

When a rear-end collision occurs, the initial assumption is that the car who rear-ended the other one is always at fault for the accident. While that is often the case, there are times when another may be held either partially or fully liable.


Missouri Car Accident Laws

Missouri uses a comparative negligence doctrine when determining liability in car accidents. That means that the courts evaluate the drivers’ action to determine the percentage of fault for each driver. There are many factors the courts use to assign fault; in Missouri, fault may be assigned to both or either of the drivers.

However, in the case of rear-end collisions, the State of Missouri has what is called a “rear-end doctrine.” This says that the driver who rear-ends another car is automatically assumed liable for the accident, except in instances where the driver of the rear vehicle can show the accident was actually caused by negligence of the driver in the front vehicle.

So, what does this really mean?


Rear-end Collisions

Typically, in rear-end collisions, the driver of the rear car is following too closely to the one in front. Should the lead car need to stop quickly, the car behind should be following at a reasonable distance in order to stop without causing an accident.

DRIVING TIP: Use the 3-second rule to help you determine a reasonable or safe distance in normal conditions. If the roadway or other conditions become more dangerous, adjust this to 4 seconds or more. To do this, pick a stationary object like a sign. Start counting to three once the rear-end of the vehicle ahead of you has passed it. You are following too close if you do not make it to three before you pass the object.

Acts of negligence on the part of the rear driver include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Tailgating and other aggressive driving behaviors
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Drowsy driving

Acts of negligence on the part of the lead driver include:

  • Driving a vehicle with malfunctioning brake lights or lights that need to be repaired
  • Stopping in traffic suddenly and unnecessarily
  • Frequent or improper lane changes
  • Failure to properly merge onto the highway
  • Brake checking, a reaction to tailgating, the lead driver hits the brake too hard causing a collision

Third party negligence

  • Chain of events occurs where a third vehicle forces the rear car (who is following at a reasonable distance) into the front car. Typically, the third car may be held liable.
  • Defective car parts can cause rea-end accidents where a third party such as an auto manufacturer may be held liable.
  • Highway defects – potholes, uneven pavement, etc. – can be the cause. Government entities who are responsible for maintaining the roadways, may be held liable..

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

DO YOU NEED LEGAL ASSISTANCE?

When you need someone who understands how Missouri handles rear-end collisions, contact the capable counsel at Nash & Franciskato. One of our experienced staff will speak with you personally and will provide you with a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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