If my car stopped on the highway and I was rear-ended, am I at fault?

Asked on November 9, 2012 under Accident Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is no way to say for certain from what you write. Usually, the rear car--the car doing the rear ending--is considered to be at fault: the assumption is that the accident occured because that car was traveling too fast or too close, or the driver was inattentive. However, that is only a presumption, and while a strong presumption, it can be overturned by evidence that the rear driver was in fact driving carefully and appropriately, but the front driver was careless or reckless. So, for example: if without warning or any evident reason to stop (like an accident ahead of you, construction, etc.), you suddenly stopped in a travel lane of a highway, even a careful following driver could be taken by surprise and be unable to stop in time to avoid you, particularly if he/she was boxed in by traffic and unable to swerve. Therefore, you need to look to the specific facts of this case to see who was at fault, or negligent. Note also that it's possible that both drivers were careless to some degree, in which case their respective negligence will affect how much each might be entitled to in compensation.

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