Who Is At Fault When Your Car Gets Rear-Ended?

Who is at fault when your car gets rear-ended? No matter whatever the extenuating circumstances may be, the driver of the car who gets rear-ended is at an advantage when it comes to determining blame. In most situations, the rear-ended vehicle’s owner can argue that the rear-ender has been negligent. However, there are also times when the rear-ender can get away scot-free. Read on to find out when.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

Full Bio →

Written by

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Mar 30, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Rear end accidents are one of the most common types auto accidents in the world. No matter whatever the extenuating circumstances may be, the driver of the car who gets rear-ended is at an advantage when it comes to determining blame.

In most situations, the rear-ended vehicle’s owner can argue that the rear-ender has been negligent – and how can anyone prove otherwise in these accidents that happen in a blink of an eye? However, there are also times where the rear-ender can get away scot-free – but such cases are rare. Here, we’ll bring you through the various scenarios of a rear-end accident.

Determining fault in the case of a rear end accident

As mentioned, one thing’s for sure: the person whose vehicle smashes into the back of another is always at a disadvantage. Any responsible driver knows that they must maintain a safe distance from the car in front – such things are simply common sense. Any rear-end accident will usually be attributed to the driver behind not keeping the mandatory safety distance with the vehicle in front, even if the rear-ended vehicle was driving haphazardly!

(Note – Follow this list of steps whenever you happen to be hit by another car on the road)

As such, if you do not have witnesses that can help with your case, the road ahead is usually clear – pay up for the damages caused to the vehicle driving in front of you. Even with witnesses, the chances of you extraditing yourself from blame are low!

Compare over 200 auto insurance companies at once!

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Cases where the rear-ender is NOT at fault

Of course, there are a few cases where the rear-ender is not at fault. The most common of such scenarios is when three vehicles (let’s call them A, B and C for clarity’s sake) are involved. When C crashes into the back of vehicle B and pushes it into the back of vehicle A, the driver of C is at fault and not B. However, this is only true when both A and B are stationary.

Another scenario is when the vehicle in front abruptly switches lanes and slows down after the lane switch, causing the rear-ender vehicle in the new lane behind to slam into the offending vehicle. Here, the “safety distance” argument carries less weight, because no amount of attention can help prevent this sort of accidents. However, witnesses must be summoned to testify that the rear-ended vehicle committed such an act before the rear-ender is absolved of his or her blame.

Swoop and Squat – A Rear-Ender’s Bane

One thing is for certain – you’re in deep trouble if you fall victim to a swoop and squat insurance fraud scheme. The swoop and squat refers to an elaborate insurance fraud (usually carried out by a crime syndicate) the criminal sets up the victim such that the victim becomes the rear-ender, and are forced to pay large amounts of money to the perpetrator of this fraud.

This elaborate scheme involves 3 vehicles: 2 belonging to the criminal and the victim’s car. The “lead car” will position it in front of the fraud victim’s vehicle, while the fraudster’s second car will drive alongside the victim’s car.

Here, the lead car will suddenly slam on its brakes at a junction and the second vehicle will effectively block the victim’s car from swerving to avoid slamming into the lead car’s rear. As all automobile owners have been indoctrinated with, the victim will assume that he is automatically at fault.

However, the driver of the lead victim will cordially suggest that insurance companies need not be involved and an immediate cash settlement will be enough to set the matter straight – to the delight of the victim. The victim will be lead to believe that the case is settled – he will avoid a spike in premium because of this rear-end accident.

It is here where the victim experiences the true horror of the swoop and squat insurance fraud. A few weeks later, the victim will receive claims for medical bills of the fraudsters, claiming that the injuries are suffered from the rear-end accident that was supposed to be waived without the knowledge of the insurance companies. The victim will then be forced to pay up or face legal action.

It is interesting to note that such swoop and squat frauds involve professionals from all walks of life – doctors are involved to diagnose “injuries”, while lawyers are recruited to help fight the case for the fraudsters in case the victim takes them to court.


Whatever the scenario, the first thing anyone should do in a rear-end accident is to exchange contact information. The drivers involved should assess the situation calmly – although many rear-enders take an aggressive stance to hopefully coerce the rear-ended driver into accepting that it is his fault in the rear-end accident.

It is always good to settle the payment of damages without involving the insurance companies if the accident is minor. Nevertheless, you should always ask for a signed contract. This will help protect you against swoop and squat and other insurance frauds.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Compare over 200 auto insurance companies at once!

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption