What can i do for being placed at fault for an accident that I didn’t cause?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can i do for being placed at fault for an accident that I didn’t cause?

I was driving on the freeway when a truck got behind
me tailgating then got over to the left lane, sped up,
cut me off and then slammed on the breaks causing
me to hit them as I tried to swerve out of the way. I
shouldn’t be charged for someone else’s reckless
driving simply because I was the car in the back. He
caused the accident by cutting me off and
immediately slamming on the breaks. Literally it
happened so fast there was nothing I could do. Now
I’m being sued for damages when he was at fault

Asked on September 8, 2017 under Accident Law, Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First, unless they sue you and win, you don't have to pay anything: only a court judgment against you can compel you to pay.
If they do sue, you can try to fight the case by showing--based on what you write--that you were not liable, or at fault, in causing the accident. Be aware, however, that this may be an uphill battle:
1) First, there is a strong presumption in the law that the rear car in an accident like this is at fault, since he/she should have been maintaining such safe following distance and speed that he/she could stop in time. This presumption can be overturned by sufficient evidence that the other driver was at fault, but because the case starts from the assumpton that you, as rear driver, was at fault, you are at a significant inherent disadvantage.
2) While the facts you site tend to support that you were not at fault, there is one fact not in your favor: trucks do not break as fast as cars, minivans, or SUVs, owing to their greater mass. If the vehicle in front was significantly larger than yours, your braking distance should be much shorter; it may be difficult to convince a court that even if they braked suddenly, that you could not have stopped in time had you been driving safely and cautiously.
3) Also assume the other driver will tell a different story than you and will not admit to suddenly pulling just in front of you and slamming on the brakes; rather, he'll likely claim he was driving fine, had to stop for traffic or road debris, etc., but you were tailgating him and hit him. A court will then evaluate which of you is telling the truth and/or is more accurate; the presumption that you, as rear driver, were at fault will work against you in this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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