Two compact cars collided in a rear-end accident on a sunny day

If My Tail Light Goes Out and I’m Rear-Ended, Am I At-Fault for the Collision?

Getting rear-ended is always jarring. The surprise of the accident itself is enough to leave you feeling, at the very least, uneasy.

However, what if you get rear-ended because your tail lights don’t work so the driver behind you is unaware that you are slowing down?

The question of fault isn’t as clear-cut in circumstances like the one described above.

Here’s what you should know:

Liability in Rear-End Accidents Hinges on Negligence

Determining negligence is the most critical aspect of liability. If you get rear-ended, you may be held liable for their damages if they can prove you acted negligently in some way.

For instance, if you knew your tail lights didn’t function properly before you started driving, you may be at least partially responsible for the accident. The reason for this is that you could have done something about the faulty brake lights and negligently chose not to.

However, if your tail lights went out while you were driving that same day, there is no reasonable way you could have known about the issue without someone telling you (unless your vehicle is equipped with alerts that warn you of such deficiencies).

Other Instances In Which the Leading Driver Can Be Liable for a Rear-End Collision

Having faulty tail lights is not the only way a leading driver can be held responsible for a rear-end collision. There are several other ways that a driver ahead can be held liable, such as:

  • The driver suddenly backs up
  • The driver suddenly stop to turn and doesn’t actually turn
  • The driver gets a flat tire but fails to pull over or turn on the vehicle’s emergency lights

The question of negligence will come down to how much the leading driver’s negligence contributed to the collision. South Dakota follows its own rules regarding negligent driving. It’s a combination of comparative and contributory negligence, commonly known as “slight-gross negligence.”

You can recover damages in a crash as long as your contribution to the crash is considered “slight.” Otherwise, you may be completely barred from recovering compensation for your losses.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg Hagg Dorsey & Hagg, LLP may be able to help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form.

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