Rear-End Shunts: Who’s Fault Was It?

Hundreds of thousands of road traffic accidents occur on UK roads every single year and research from various insurance bodies has estimated that rear-end shunts account for 1 in 4 of all road traffic accidents. When it comes to rear-end collisions, there is a strong assumption that the rear vehicle is at fault, regardless of whether or not the driver of the front vehicle drove in a manner which may have contributed to the accident.  

This is because motorists are expected to allow sufficient distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them, so to avoid a collision if the vehicle in front were to suddenly stop. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states: “Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance.”

However, we understand that no two accidents are ever the same and it always depends on the individual circumstances. As with all personal injury claims, you need to show negligence on the part of the other driver or drivers, involved in the accident.

Here at Bonnar Accident Law, we have significant experience handling these types of claims so if you are injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, get in touch today or keep reading to find out exactly what a rear-end shunt is, how to determine who is at fault and the steps you should take if you are injured.

 

What is a Rear-End Shunt?

A rear-end shunt is when one vehicle collides into the back of a vehicle in front. This might be when the car in front is stationary, for example at a junction, roundabout or traffic lights, or when congested traffic is moving slowly. Accidents such as these are common when the driver of the rear vehicle has a momentary loss of concentration or when they’re perhaps travelling too close to the vehicle in front. Multiple rear-end shunts can also be common in lines of queuing traffic and can create a ‘domino effect’, where the impact of a car hitting the end of a queue can push other cars forward into the back of the cars in front of them.

 

Who is at Fault?

The reason most rear-end shunts are the fault of the rear driver is because they can see what is ahead and take the necessary measures to prevent the crash. Whether it’s by paying attention to the weather conditions, the road conditions, or the traffic ahead, it’s our responsibility as motorists to stay alert and keep a safe distance between ourselves and the vehicle in front of us, so we can stop in time in the event of an accident. The driver of the vehicle in front should be taking these same steps, and therefore, may be unaware of the accident that might be about to occur behind them or have no way of preventing the rear driver from hitting their car. This is especially true when the front driver is stationary at traffic lights or a junction.

With that said, there are occasions when the actions of the front driver may make it impossible for a rear driver to stop in time and in those circumstances, the front driver may be at fault for the accident. For example, if the driver in front comes to a sudden and abrupt stop, at a time and in a location that couldn’t be foreseeable or if the front driver’s tail lights aren’t working.

 

What do I do if I am Involved in a Rear-End Shunt?

We completely understand that at the time of the accident you may be too shaken to clearly identify who was at fault. If you aren’t sure, then do not admit liability or responsibility for the accident. Rather just stay calm and try to remember as many of the details as you can as these can help to support your claim if you weren’t at fault. Especially in the case of rear-end shunts, evidence retrieved from dashcam footage or witness accounts can hugely back up your claim. Other details you should obtain at the time include:

  • The other driver’s name, address, contact details and insurance details
  • Videos or photographs of the scene and of any damage to your car if possible
  • The contact details of any witnesses
  • The registration, make and model of the vehicle
  • The date, time and location of the accident

If required, make sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible and report to your GP following any admission to the hospital. And as ever, always report the accident to the police.

If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.