The driver in the rear is usually responsible for a rear end accident; every driver has a duty to follow other drivers at a distance that is safe. This is because drivers may suddenly slow or come to a stop without warning. You should always keep enough distance between you and the next car to avoid a collision. However, there are some scenarios where the driver of the car that is hit from the rear is negligent, too.
For example, you could be liable as the front car in a rear-end crash if you suddenly reverse on the road, such as at a stop light. You also could be cited if you slow down to make a turn and do not actually complete the turn. Further, if your brake lights are not working, you could be liable, and if you have a flat tire and do not pull over and are not using your hazard lights, you could be liable as well.
In those above examples, the driver of the car that was hit from behind would probably be considered negligent at least in part. The legal effect of your negligence will hinge upon how much the driver’s negligence led to the car accident. It also is important how your state treats accidents where more than one driver is at fault.
If there is more than one driver at fault, the legal result depends upon the law in the state. There are still a few states such as Virginia that have a strict contributory negligence rule. This means if you caused the rear end crash in any way, even 1% of the blame, you cannot make a legal claim.
However, many states today follow a version of comparative negligence. This means your amount of recovery depends upon how much liability you have for the accident. For example, if you are found to be 25% responsible for a rear end crash and you had $10,000 in damages, your recovery would be only $7500.