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Hit Twice. Who's Fault?

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Just this morning in Elizabeth, a 27-yr old man from Wayne was rear-ended twice while driving near exit 13A on the New Jersey Turnpike. The first vehicle struck his Buick from behind, then fled the scene. The first impact disabled his vehicle, leaving him the in the left lane. He was then rear-ended again by a second vehicle. The second driver remained at the scene. The victim was taken to Trinitas Hospital with minor injuries. While this incident may have resulted in minor injuries, it does bring up some interesting questions:

Who’s at fault?

What caused the first collision?

Would the second collision have happened without the first?

How liable is the second driver?

Is there an equal share in fault?    

The answer is, it depends...

It is true to say that both vehicles are at fault for the accident and bear some level of responsibility.  The amount of responsibility for each vehicle depends on their level of fault.  A jury could find that each vehicle is 50% at fault, or they could find that the first vehicle bears more responsibility because it was the vehicle that caused the victim’s vehicle to become disabled, thereby putting it in the path of the second vehicle.

Without knowing more about the facts, it is not possible to truly know what caused the accident as we don’t yet know if the vehicle that was struck was slowing down for traffic and the first vehicle didn’t see the car stop for traffic. Was either distracted by a cell phone? Did someone's brakes fail? As of right now, there are too many unknown factors to accurately determine what caused the accident, and consequently, who is more at fault.

The level of fault of each vehicle is determined by what caused the first vehicle to impact the Buick disabling the vehicle, how did it come to be in the path of the second vehicle and could the second vehicle have done anything to avoid the second impact. As we wait on more facts, the short answer is, both are at fault to some degree. As to degree of fault, that’s yet to be determined.


Photo source: aaroads.com

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