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Understanding the legal considerations that come into play after rear-end collisions can be helpful if you’ve been involved in such an incident. Let’s look at some essential legal aspects of these accidents, from determining fault and liability to understanding insurance claims and compensation rights. Remember that the following is ​general and ​that for specific help, you need to talk to a ​Bryan, TX or Hempstead, TX car accident lawyer.

From Your Car Accident Lawyer: Rear-End Collision Legal Considerations


Negligence is important in determining liability in rear-end collisions. Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person, and in the context of rear-end accidents, this often falls on a driver who fails to maintain a safe following distance, commonly known as tailgating.

In nearly all cases, the presumption is that the tailgating driver is at fault, given that they are expected to maintain a safe distance to prevent collisions. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are exceptions.

Texas Laws on Tailgating and Brake Checking

Texas law requires drivers to maintain a reasonable and prudent distance from the vehicle ahead, taking into account the speed and traffic conditions. Failing to do so can be a strong point in establishing negligence in a rear-end collision case and is a Class C misdemeanor in itself. However, be aware that “brake checking” is also illegal and is actually a more serious crime than tailgating.

Brake checking occurs when the driver in front attempts to “teach the tailgater a lesson” by suddenly slamming on their brakes for no reason. The penalty for this behavior can even include jail time, and if the lead driver was brake checking, even if the following driver was tailgating, the lead driver may actually be considered primarily at fault.

Comparative Fault

Texas follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. This means that if you’re involved in a rear-end collision, your ability to recover compensation is contingent upon your degree of fault. As long as you are not more than 50% responsible for the accident, you can seek damages. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

For instance, if someone tailgated you and there was an accident, but you are found to have been 20% at fault for stopping without good reason or failing to use your turn signal, and your total damages amount to $100,000, you would only be eligible to recover $80,000. It’s crucial to understand this principle as it directly affects the potential compensation you can recover.


Gathering and presenting evidence is crucial in any personal injury case, and especially in a case where small choices by either driver can affect who is to blame and by how much. Your lawyer will help you in collecting clear and irrefutable evidence to establish negligence. This may include things like traffic camera or dashcam footage, if available, which can show the moments leading up to the collision. Witness statements corroborating the events and behavior of the drivers involved are also useful.

Other important evidence will include police reports, which often contain valuable observations and initial assessments of fault, and vehicle damage reports, as the extent and location of damage can be indicative of how the collision occurred. Modern cars also have event recorders that can show what each driver was doing at the moment of the accident.

Statute of Limitations

In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit related to a rear-end collision is two years from the date of the accident in most cases, though there are very limited exceptions. This timeframe is absolutely critical; failing to file within this period can result in the loss of your right to seek any legal recourse at all.

Insurance Dynamics

In Texas, where fault matters greatly in car accidents and determines whose insurance company has to pay, you’ll likely be dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. The first step is straightforward but critical. It involves presenting your case to the insurance company of the driver who hit you, and it’s important to make a compelling narrative.

Insurance companies, by their nature, aim to minimize their payouts if they can. They will scrutinize every detail, from the accident’s circumstances to the extent of your injuries and damages, and their initial settlement offer might be much lower than what you expect or need. This is where skilled negotiation becomes crucial. You’ll need to be prepared to counter lowball offers and argue for a settlement that covers all your damages, backed by solid evidence and possibly legal precedents. It’s also not uncommon for insurance companies to dispute their policyholder’s liability or argue over the severity of your damages.

They might question the necessity of certain medical treatments or the estimates for vehicle repairs, for example. In these instances, having detailed documentation and expert opinions is invaluable, and you might need to present further evidence, such as additional medical expert opinions or assessments from auto repair professionals, to shore up your claim. You need a qualified lawyer on your side here: one who can effectively communicate the impact of the accident on your life and finances.

Calculating Damages 

Damages in a rear-end collision case can cover various aspects of your losses, including:

  1. Medical Expenses: Costs for immediate and ongoing medical care due to injuries from the accident.
  2. Lost Wages: Compensation for lost income if you’re unable to work because of your injuries.
  3. Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.
  4. Property Damage: Costs for repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the collision.

To receive fair compensation, you must accurately calculate these damages, but it’s easy for those unfamiliar with the process to underestimate their ongoing needs. Making a reliable assessment involves consulting with medical professionals and financial experts, and it takes years of experience and skill in the field to do all this well. Your lawyer Bryan, TX and Hempstead, TX car accident lawyer will have this kind of experience and will be able to help you make an accurate assessment of your true losses.

Defending Against Rear-End Collision Blame

If you are accused of causing a rear-end collision or of bearing more fault than you actually do, defense is essential, especially if you’ve been injured and need to make a claim. You will need someone to critically examine the evidence presented against you and potentially challenge its accuracy and reliability. Key strategies in your defense could include highlighting inconsistencies in witness statements or questioning the reliability of video evidence.

You may also need to find and present evidence demonstrating that you maintained a safe following distance or were not brake-checking and that external factors contributed to the accident: or that the other driver was at fault. In some cases, mechanical failures might have played a role in the collision, and this needs to be investigated. Having effective legal representation can significantly reduce your liability and the potential financial impact.

Rear-end collision claims can be hard to work through, but with the help of a qualified lawyer, you can successfully prove liability and recover losses and damages. Contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer to work with one of Texas’ most skilled car accident lawyers.

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