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Who Is At Fault If You Are Rear Ended?

By Stephen Hudson. Last Updated 8th September 2023. Welcome to our guide on who is at fault if you are rear-ended. Rear-end collisions are a type of road traffic accident where one vehicle hits the back of another vehicle. This guide will examine whether you can claim compensation if you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision.

If you have been injured in a rear-end accident with another vehicle, then the resulting injuries can have a severe impact on your quality of life. You may experience musculoskeletal injuries or experience whiplash. This may result in you being unable to live your life as you normally do.

The Whiplash Reform Programme has changed how claims are made for certain low-value injuries sustained in road traffic accidents. We’ll take a look later in this guide at what exactly these changes are and what kinds of claims they could impact.

Assessing who is at fault in a car crash rear-end collision or other road traffic accident can be complex. If you have been injured because your car was hit from behind, call Legal Expert today. We will be able to assess who was at fault if you are rear-ended and, if we can see that you are eligible to claim compensation for your injuries, a knowledgeable solicitor can start working on your claim as soon as possible.

Call us today on 0800 073 8804 to begin your claim. Alternatively, use our online accident claims form to contact us in writing. We look forward to helping you claim.

Rear ended car accident

Rear-ended car accident

Select A Section:

  1. What Are Rear-End Accidents?
  2. A Car Reversed Into Me, Who’s At Fault?
  3. I Rear-Ended Someone Who Stopped Suddenly – Am I At Fault?
  4. I Was In An Accident Where I Was Rear-Ended – How Long Do I Have To Claim?
  5. Whiplash & Other Injuries Caused By Being Rear-Ended
  6. The Application Of Rule 126 Of The Highway Code
  7. What Is Negligence In Rear-End Collisions?
  8. Evidence You Could Collect If Hit From Behind
  9. Compensation Payouts For Rear-Ending Accidents
  10. What Else Could I Claim?
  11. Claiming For A Rear-End Collision With A No Win No Fee Solicitor
  12. Learn More About Rear-End Collisions

What Are Rear-End Accidents?

Before we discuss who is at fault if you are in a car accident and hit from the back, you might wonder, ‘what does rear-ended mean?’. If you are unsure what rear-ended means, it is a road traffic accident in which a vehicle is hit from behind.

In such scenarios, the driver at the back may be at fault. This may be because the rear driver did not leave enough space for the driver in front of them. Additionally, the rear driver may have been driving past the speed limit and crashed into the motorist in front of them.

However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the driver in front may be liable for a rear shunt accident. For example, if they suddenly stop their car because they weren’t paying attention to traffic lights.

Continue reading to find out how a rear-end accident could happen. Alternatively, speak to our advisors at any time to discuss your eligibility to work with our No Win No Fee solicitors.

A Car Reversed Into Me, Who’s At Fault?

Fault in rear-end collisions will be placed on the party that did not follow the road traffic laws and guidance. In England, Wales & Scotland these will be from the Road Traffic Act 1980 and The Highway Code. As a road user, you will be expected to observe the laws and guidance that they set out to help ensure that you do not put other road users at risk of harm.

The Highway Code’s guidance on using the road while reversing states that a driver should:

  • Ensure that they constantly check for obstructions
  • Reverse slowly
  • Avoid reversing into a busy road
  • Ensure that they do not reverse their vehicle further than necessary

If you had suffered injuries in a car crash because of another party’s reckless or careless driving then you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim.

You can reach out to one of our advisers for more information about who could be found at fault for your crash, and whether you may be eligible to make a claim.

I Rear-Ended Someone Who Stopped Suddenly – Am I At Fault?

As we discussed above, drivers are expected to obey the road traffic rules and laws in place. In order to have a valid car accident claim, you must be able to prove that the other driver was responsible for your injuries due to them breaching their duty of care.

Typically, in a rear-end collision, the driver at the back is liable for the accident, even if the vehicle in front stopped suddenly. This is due to Rule 126 of the Highway Code, which states you must leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you call safely pull up if the car in front were to suddenly stop or slow down. We discuss this a bit more later on in this guide.

However, there are incidents where the driver of the car in front might be liable for the accident. For example, the vehicle in front may have faulty brake lights. Annex 6 of the Highway Codes states that lights, indicators, reflectors, and number plates must be kept clean and clear. If you rear-ended someone who stopped suddenly because their brake lights were faulty or dirty, they might be liable for the accident.

In addition, there are split liability accidents. These are where each party shares some of the liability for the collision.

To discuss the circumstances of your road traffic accident and find out if you are eligible for compensation, please get in touch with one of our advisors using the details at the top of the page.

I Was In An Accident Where I Was Rear-Ended – How Long Do I Have To Claim?

If you are eligible to make a personal injury claim following a rear end car accident, you must also be aware of the time limit in place for starting your claim. Under the Limitation Act 1980, you will generally have 3 years to start your claim from the date of the vehicle collision. However, there are some exceptions to this.

For example, if a child was injured in an accident by a rear end shunt, the time limit would pause until their 18th birthday. While the time limit is paused, a solicitor or parent, for example, could apply to be a litigation friend and claim on the child’s behalf. If no claim is made during the pause, the injured party will have 3 years to start their own claim from their 18th birthday.

To learn more about the other exceptions that apply to this 3-year time limit, you can contact our advisors. They could also help answer any questions you may have, such as ‘When is a rear end collision not your fault in the UK?’

Whiplash & Other Injuries Caused By Being Rear-Ended

A whiplash injury can be caused by a rear-end shunt accident. Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury that occurs when the head is pushed beyond its normal range of motion, causing strain on the neck. It can be caused by road traffic accidents but can also happen as the result of a fall or a sporting accident. Whiplash can also affect the shoulder, upper arms and upper back.

The main symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Stiffness in the neck, which can make it difficult to move the head
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain in the shoulders and arms

Fortunately, most cases of whiplash heal without treatment within 2-3 months, but if your whiplash does not heal immediately your doctor may prescribe a course of physiotherapy.

Although whiplash often heals on its own, if you believe that you are suffering from whiplash, you should always go to the doctor to have your injuries diagnosed. This is because the doctor may feel that you need medical treatment and because you will need your injuries to be diagnosed by a doctor to provide evidence of your injuries. If the rear of your car has been damaged by a collision, this report could help you by providing a professional evaluation of your injuries.

Other injuries which can be caused by rear-end collisions can include head injuries, spinal injuries and cuts and lacerations from broken windows. In some instances, rear-end accidents could even be fatal. If you are seriously or severely injured following a car crash rear-end collision, you should go to a hospital or doctors surgery for the appropriate treatment straight away.

Whiplash Injury Regulations

The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 and the Whiplash Reform Programme have changed how whiplash is claimed for in the UK. Injuries sustained by passengers or drivers over the age of 18 on or after 31st May 2021 that are worth less than £5,000 will need to be claimed for through an online portal. If your vehicle has been rear ended but you’ve only suffered a minor whiplash injury, you may need to use this portal to claim.

However, we always encourage calling to speak to us before launching a claim in this manner. Your injuries may be worth more than you think. If you’ve been involved in a rear end collision, we can provide you with a compensation estimate over the phone. This can give you a better indication of what you could receive.

The Application Of Rule 126 Of The Highway Code

Rule 126 of The Highway Code states that all drivers should leave a 2-second gap between their vehicle and the vehicle in front. However, this is not cut and dry, and there are some exceptions to this.

Drivers of large vehicles like HGVs or lorries, or someone driving a motorcycle should consider that it takes longer for their vehicle to stop. They should increase their stopping distance accordingly.

“Stopping distance” is actually made up of two factors. “Thinking distance” is the time it takes you to recognise a hazard and apply the breaks. You should leave a greater distance between you and the car in front when driving in low visability, as your thinking distance may be affected.

“Braking distance” is the amount of time it takes your vehicle to stop after the breaks are applied. Your braking distance is greater the higher the speed you are travelling at and will also increase in wet conditions or when there is ice or snow on the road.

Furthermore, you need to ensure that your brakes are working properly at all times. If, for instance, you collide with the rear of a car, you would be considered liable if the collision was caused because you were aware that your brakes were faulty and you failed to get them fixed. Please contact our team if you have further questions about claiming due to a rear end collision. We offer free legal advice and you are under no obligation to use our claims services should you contact us.

What Is Negligence In Rear-End Collisions?

Here are some examples of negligence whilst driving, which could cause a rear-end collision and mean someone else is at fault if you are rear-ended:

  • Drink driving or driving while under the influence- This could impact your thinking distance, making you slower to react to a car stopping in front of you.
  • Using your phone while driving– This could cause you to be distracted, meaning that you don’t notice the car in front of you stop.
  • Speeding- Higher speeds increase your stopping distance. If you’re travelling too fast, you may not be able to stop in time.
  • Tailgating– If you don’t leave the correct stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front, you could fail to stop in time.

If you were injured in a rear-end accident and the other driver was engaging in any of these activities, you could be owed compensation. Speak to our team of advisers to find out more.

Evidence You Could Collect If Hit From Behind

A car accident claim must be supported with evidence that proves your injuries were caused by a breach in the duty of care another driver owed to you. This is set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988. It means that road users must do everything they reasonably can to prevent one another from experiencing harm. The Highway Code sets out additional rules and regulations for road usage.

If you are hit from the rear, you could collect evidence to help prove that another driver’s failure to adhere to their duty of care caused your injuries.

Examples of evidence you could submit include:

  • Witness contact details, if anyone witnessed the accident, they can provide a statement later on.
  • Photos of vehicle damage.
  • Injury photos. If your injuries are visible, you could submit photos of them.
  • Accident scene photos. If anyone took photographs of the collision, these could be submitted.
  • This may include CCTV, mobile phone or dashcam footage.
  • Medical records. These should include details of the date you sought treatment as well as details of your injuries. They may also contain X-rays if you suffered a broken bone in the collision.

If you were hit from behind, call our advisors for free advice about gathering evidence. They’re available to discuss your potential claim 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Compensation Payouts For Rear-Ending Accidents

If you’ve been hit from behind as a result of another road user’s negligence, then you could be owed compensation. However, you may be wondering how much your settlement could be worth. It can be difficult to say without knowing more about your specific circumstances.

However, in this section, we have included a table made up of entries for different injuries corresponding to bracket compensation amounts from the 16th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), published in 2022. We have also included the tariff amounts from the The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021, which we will look at more closely in the next section.

Nature Of Your InjuryPossible SettlementNotes
Kidney Injuries (a)£169,400 to £210,400This is both a serious and permanent injury affecting both injuries. It could also include the loss of both of your kidneys.
Back Injuries - Severe (a)(ii)£74,160 to £88,430A case which has a special feature which excludes it from a lower bracket back injury. This could include damage to nerve roots as well as loss of mobility or sensation.
Neck Injuries - Severe (a)(iii)£45,470 to £55,990The injury may cause a dislocation or fracture as well as or cause severe soft tissue damage and injury. There could be a tendon rupture.
Foot - Severe (d)£41,970 to £70,030This injury could present as your nobility being restricted or there being a heel fracture affecting both heels.
Facial Scar - Very Severe (a)£29,780 to £97,330The injury may be severe and cause a severe psychological injury as well as disfigure the claimant. Those who are younger (between teenage years and their early 30's) may be awarded a higher settlement.
Facial Scar - Less Severe (b)£17,960 to £48,420The claimant may be substantially disfigured and could lead to psychological harm as well as the physical injury.
Toe - Moderate (e)Up to £9,600An injury which is straight forward or considered to be uncomplicated. This could include a fracture or could include an existing injury being worsened.
Whiplash and Psychiatric Impact £4,345An injury lasting between 18-24 months with some psychological impact
Whiplash and Psychiatric Impact £4,215An injury lasting between 18-24 months without any psychological impact

When working out the value of your claim, the JCG is just one of the resources that legal professionals will make use of. Within it, you can find a description of various injuries. Alongside each entry is a range of figures that are used to give an idea regarding how much you should be awarded for your physical pain and mental suffering. This part of the settlement is known as general damages.

Factors such as how severe your injuries are, and the length of your recovery period are just two considerations that are taken into account. To illustrate, permanent injuries that cause serious pain and discomfort would likely be awarded more in general damages than minor injuries that heal over a short period of time. Being hit from behind can result in various injuries of different severity.

How Are Low-Value Injuries From A Car Crash Compensated?

Certain road traffic injury claims valued at £5,000 or lower are generally made in a different way since the introduction of the Whiplash Reform Programme. You might need to claim in a different way if you are a driver or passenger over the age of 18 whose injuries are worth less than £5,000, provided your accident happened on or after 31st May 2021.

The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 set out tariff amounts for certain whiplash injuries. Even if you don’t make your claim through the alternative channel mentioned above, these tariff amounts could still apply.

What Else Could I Claim?

If you are hit from the back by a car, your injuries may cause certain financial losses and expenditures. If so, it’s possible that you could have an amount awarded known as a special damages payment.

We have included some examples below of the kinds of losses that an injury may cause and that you could be reimbursed for. However, you will also need to provide evidence of their financial impact on you. Receipts and payslips are good examples of how you can achieve this.

  • Loss of earnings – If you’ve been hit from the back in a car accident, the injuries you sustain may cause you to miss time at work. If so, your income could suffer as a result. It’s not only your salary for which you could be reimbursed but also any bonuses and pension contributions.
  • Medical expenses – This could include costs such as prescription medication or even certain private healthcare treatment.
  • Damage to property – Whilst damage to your vehicle can often be covered by insurance, other items in your car at the time may have been damaged or destroyed. The cost of these items may be included in your special damages payment.

There are other examples too. Get in touch with our advisors for more information. We can also assist with queries such as who’s at fault in a rear end collision.

Claiming For A Rear-End Collision With A No Win No Fee Solicitor

If you have valid grounds to claim for injuries caused by a rear-end collision, then you could choose to seek help from a solicitor. You can discuss your case with our advisors, and they may then connect you with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors.

If one of our No Win No Fee solicitors agrees to support your claim, then they can offer you what’s called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Under this type of agreement, you won’t have to pay any upfront or ongoing fees to your solicitor for their work. You also won’t need to pay your solicitor for their work if your claim proves to be unsuccessful.

If your claim is a success, then your solicitor can take what’s called a success fee. This is typically a legally capped percentage from the compensation awarded to you.

For more advice on claiming for injuries caused by getting hit by a car from behind, contact our advisors for free today. To do so, you can:

Learn More About Rear-End Collisions

We hope you have found this guide about who is at fault when you get rear-ended helpful. If you wish to claim compensation for injuries caused by a road traffic accident, you may also find these guides helpful.

Thank you for reading our guide on who is at fault if you are rear-ended. For more information on rear-end collision accident claims, call our team on the number above.

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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.