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Is an accident your fault if you suddenly hit the brakes?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

You get involved in a car accident, when the pickup truck behind you rear-ends your vehicle. As you get out and talk to the other driver, you’re surprised that they seemed very angry. They blame you for causing the accident.

For instance, maybe you were approaching a yellow light. You started to speed up, thinking you could make it through, but then you realize that you just didn’t have enough time. You suddenly hit the brakes and aggressively slow down to stop in time. Unbeknownst to you, the truck behind you was also trying to run the yellow light and that driver hit you when you stopped.

That driver was surprised that you hit the brakes so hard, and he or she says that you caused the crash. Is this true?

The following driver is generally at fault

There are rare exceptions, but the general rule of thumb is that the driver who is in back is going to be at fault in a rear-end accident.

The authorities look at it this way because one of the obligations that every driver has is to keep a safe following distance. No matter what happens in front of them, they are expected to stop before running into another vehicle.

The driver behind you may not have been expecting you to hit the brakes so aggressively, and they may have even assumed you were going to speed up even more to make that yellow light, but that is a dangerous assumption. You didn’t do anything wrong by deciding to stop so that you didn’t run the red light, and the fault still lies with that following driver for failing to keep a safe following distance.

After all, this example just involves a yellow light. But anything else could have happened unexpectedly in front of you. Maybe an animal darted into the road or a child chased a ball into the street. You need to know that the drivers behind you will stay far enough back that you can stop safely if something like this occurs. If they fail to do this, just because the stop was unexpected, that doesn’t make it your fault.

You may deserve compensation

Moreover, not only is that driver at fault for causing the accident, but you may deserve financial compensation if that accident led to serious injuries.