A rear-end collision occurs whenever a car crashes into the back of a vehicle in front of it. Many have heard the age-old adage which states that the driver of the rear vehicle is always at fault in a rear-end collision. This is, however, not true as the driver of the front vehicle may be at fault under certain circumstances.
Michigan Laws on Rear-end Collisions
Under Michigan law,1 drivers of the rear vehicles are deemed to be “prima facie guilty of negligence.” This means that the driver of the rear vehicle involved in a rear-end collision is presumed to be both at fault in the accident as well as guilty of committing negligence. However, through evidence and testimony, the driver may overcome this presumption of guilt and demonstrate that he or she was neither negligent nor at fault in the collision.
While Michigan law does allow for the rear driver involved in an accident to overcome the presumption of fault, overcoming this presumption can be difficult. Michigan drivers are required2 to drive “at a careful and prudent speed, not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing.” Even more, the same statute mandates that drivers “shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead.” When read together, these two laws create a difficult hurdle for the driver of the rear vehicle to overcome.
How Can I Overcome Michigan’s Automatic Presumption of Fault?
As established above, it is not impossible for the driver of the rear vehicle involved in a rear-end collision to overcome the presumption of fault. For example, if the driver of the front vehicle was driving without working brake lights at the time of the collision, this evidence could be used to overcome the presumption of negligence.
Additionally, if the rear vehicle or any of its components were defective at the time of the accident, and the driver was unaware of the defect which happened to be the cause of the accident, they could be able to demonstrate that they did not act negligently. Moreover, the fact that an unknown defect existed at the time of the accident may allow the driver of the rear vehicle to bring a products liability suit against the vehicle’s or defective component’s manufacturer(s).
Contact a Michigan motor vehicle accident attorney
Do not consider yourself automatically at fault if you are the driver of the rear vehicle in a rear-end collision. If you believe that the collision was caused by the negligence of the driver of the front vehicle, you may be able to overcome the presumption of liability. If you believe the collision was caused by a defect, you may avoid liability and be able to bring a cause of action against the manufacturer. In this instance, you always want to seek assistance from an auto accident lawyer who understands this particular type of automobile accident case. At Michigan Injury Lawyers, our team of attorneys understand the legal issues that may arise in a rear-end collision case and will always strive to protect your rights to full recovery. Please call 313-438-4357 for a free consultation today.