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A common misconception in the public mind is that if a driver hits a car from behind, called a rear-end collision, that driver is at fault. While this may be true in certain circumstances, it is not necessarily so.

If you have been in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation with the help of a skilled car accident attorney. An experienced Greensboro rear-end collision car accident lawyer can help in determining fault and advise you of all your legal options.

Contributory Negligence

What comes into play in determining fault and damages is North Carolina’s negligence law. North Carolina has adopted the legal doctrine of “contributory negligence,” which simply means the driver who has some fault in causing the rear-end collision cannot recover damages.

Many other states use the comparative negligence doctrine, which reduces the amount of damages depending upon how much at fault the person is. Contributory negligence law has five elements that must be proven by the plaintiff (the party bringing the lawsuit) to prevail in court:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of that duty
  • Cause in fact
  • Proximate cause
  • Damages

Duty of Care

Motorists have a duty of care to act responsibly toward other drivers because they all share the road. For example, if the driver in front begins to move when the traffic light turns green and then suddenly stops for no apparent reason and is hit from behind, that stopping driver has breached their duty of care to the other driver.

But if a driver approaching the intersection is distracted and hits a car stopped at a traffic light, that driver has breached the duty of care element.

Duty of care does have a limit. For example, if someone passing by the rear-end collision and sees an injured stranger struggling to get out of the car, the passerby has no duty of care to help. But if the passerby attempts to pull the person from the car, a duty of care has been assumed.

Cause in Fact

In a rear-end collision accident in Greensboro, the driver who is hit from behind must prove that any injury or damage that occurred would not have happened “but for” the other driver’s action. “But for,”meaning causation.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is a legal term that means that the person causing the injury or damage must have known that their action would result in injury or damage. So, for example, the driver of the car that rear-ended another car must have known that one car hitting another would cause injury and or damage.

However, if the damaged car is hit at the repair shop, the driver causing the rear-end collision could not have foreseen that would happen and, therefore, bears no legal responsibility for the secondary damage.

Civil Lawsuit

As in any civil lawsuit, damages must be proven. In the case of a rear-end collision, this is easily done unless the impact was slight enough to not cause any physical damage. However, if the driver who was hit develops whiplash days later as a result of the impact then this element of the law is satisfied.

If all of the elements of contributory negligence are proven the plaintiff can prevail, assuming the defense cannot successfully argue that one or more of the elements are not proven. The parties to a Greensboro rear-end collision lawsuit can have a jury determine fault and damages, but the majority of civil cases are settled out of court.

Contacting a Greensboro Rear-End Collision Attorney

It is in your best interest to consult with a Greensboro rear-end collision attorney who is well-versed in the law relating to rear-end collisions. Call a skilled attorney today to learn your options moving forward.