Are you automatically at fault if you rear-end another vehicle?

Not necessarily. Washington case law uses the “following car”doctrine, which states that in the absence of an emergency or unusual condition, the following driver is prima facie negligent if he runs into the car ahead. However, when the forward car’s action is not reasonably anticipated, such as a sudden stop where none is to be anticipated, the judge or jury must find an affirmative act of negligence by the following driver.

 

If you have rear-ended another vehicle, it is not automatically your fault. Many factors will influence the determination of fault for the accident. Staying a safe distance back from the car in front of you can go a long way toward preventing rear-end accidents. To help determine a safe distance from the car in front of you, use the three-second rule. For more information on this rule, click here