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Who Is at Fault in a Denver Rear-End Accident?

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June 11, 2024 Car Accidents

If you live in the Denver area, you or someone in your family has likely experienced a rear-end accident.

Rear-end collisions are the most common traffic accidents in the United States, and Denver and its surrounding areas are no exception. More than half of all car crashes in and around Denver are rear-end collisions.

Rear-end crashes also cause a lot of confusion. Many people assume that the rear driver is always at fault in a Denver rear-end accident. While it is generally true that the rear driver is to blame, liability for rear-end accidents is not always clear-cut.

If you’ve been injured in a rear-end accident, you may have many unanswered questions about your rights and eligibility for compensation.

At Fuicelli & Lee, our Denver car accident lawyers have extensive experience investigating and litigating rear-end collisions in the Denver area. We don’t measure our success on the number of cases we handle but on the difference we make in our clients’ lives.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today!

Denver’s Rear-End Accident Hot Spots

Automobiles damaged in a street car crash accident.

Denver-area residents are all too familiar with the notorious traffic conditions in and around the city. Congested stretches of I-70, I-25, Federal Boulevard, and Colorado Boulevard headline traffic and crash reports almost every day and are considered some of the most dangerous roads in the state.

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of collision on Denver’s roads. Recent statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Denver Regional Council of Governments show that over 8,000 rear-end crashes were reported in the city and surrounding areas last year alone.

Several locations in and around Denver have gained notoriety as hot spots for rear-end accidents.

These include:

  • I-25 through downtown Denver, particularly during rush-hour traffic
  • I-70 in Denver, especially near the Colorado Mills shopping center and all merge points
  • The intersections along Colorado Boulevard, such as the ones at East Colfax Avenue, East 56th Avenue, and Evans Avenue
  • The intersection of North Tower Road and East 56th Avenue
  • Colfax Avenue, one of the city’s busiest streets, and especially at the intersections of Downing Street, Kalamath Street, Speer Boulevard, and North Lincoln Street.
  • The exit ramps from I-225 onto Parker Road and Alameda Avenue
  • The intersection of Market Street and 20th
  • Martin Luther King Boulevard, especially the intersections at Central Park Boulevard and Quebec Street
  • West Mississippi Avenue, especially the intersections at South Santa Fe Drive and South Platte River Drive

While the rate of collisions on these roads and intersections tends to exceed the average, accidents can and do happen everywhere around the city.

Why Are Rear-End Crashes So Common?

One recent government study found that about 220 traffic accidents occur daily in the area encompassing Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, and Jefferson Counties. These crashes result in about 70 injuries per day and four deaths per week.

Rear-end crashes happen for various reasons, but following too closely is the most common cause.

A driver whose vehicle rear-ends another vehicle may blame the lead driver for braking too hard or turning too abruptly, but crash investigations usually determine that the collision wouldn’t have happened had the rear vehicle kept a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

Here’s a breakdown of the leading causes of rear-end accidents:

  • Tailgating: Failure to maintain a safe following distance is a leading cause of rear-end accidents. When drivers follow too closely, they don’t have enough time to react and stop if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes.
  • Distracted Driving: Drivers who take their eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, increase their risk of rear-ending another vehicle. Texting, mapping, adjusting the radio, and eating are some of the activities that divert a driver’s attention from the road.
  • Speeding: Excessive speed reduces a driver’s reaction time and increases the distance needed to stop safely. Speeding is especially dangerous in congested areas or during bad weather.
  • Aggressive Driving: Road rage and aggressive behavior, such as weaving in and out of lanes and cutting off other drivers, are leading causes of rear-end collisions.
  • Abrupt Stopping: When a driver stops suddenly without warning, the vehicles behind may not have enough time to react, resulting in a rear-end crash.
  • Poor Weather: Rain, snow, or ice can significantly reduce traction and visibility, making it more difficult to stop in time or observe hazards ahead.
  • Faulty Brakes: Poorly maintained or defective brake systems can prevent drivers from slowing down or stopping altogether, increasing the likelihood of rear-ending another vehicle.
  • Impaired Driving: Drunk driving or driving under the influence of illicit drugs or certain medications impairs judgment, reaction time, and overall driving ability, contributing to rear-end accidents.
  • Fatigue/Asleep at the Wheel: Drowsy or fatigued drivers may have trouble staying alert or awake while driving, increasing the likelihood of rear-ending another vehicle.

Is the Rear Driver Always at Fault for a Rear-End Collision?

Two drivers arguing over car damage after an accident.

Usually, but not always. In Colorado, as in most other states, the rear driver is typically considered negligent in a rear-end accident. This presumption exists because drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance and pay attention to the road, leaving them with enough time to avoid colliding with the traffic ahead. However, there are some circumstances where a rear driver can’t avoid a collision.

If you have rear-ended someone, you should not automatically assume you’re responsible for the crash. If you believe the driver ahead of you was to blame, you may prove they were the negligent or reckless ones.

Situations where the other driver’s actions or negligence contributes to or directly causes a rear-end accident include:

  • The Other Driver Cuts You Off: If a driver suddenly changes lanes in front of you without leaving sufficient space, you may not have enough time to react and brake safely.
  • Their Brake Lights are Out: If the other driver’s brake lights are not functioning properly, you may not be able to see them slowing down or stopping.
  • Stopping on the Road: If a driver stops unexpectedly in a travel lane without a good reason, the trailing vehicles may not have enough time to stop safely.
  • Driving Recklessly: Erratic driving, such as swerving, sudden lane changes, or running red lights, forces other drivers to take evasive actions, potentially causing a rear-end collision.
  • The Driver Behind You Doesn’t Stop in Time: Sometimes, a third vehicle may rear-end you, pushing your car into the vehicle in front. These crashes are more common on I-70, I-25, and other high-speed Denver thoroughfares.
  • Reversing Unexpectedly: If a driver suddenly reverses without warning, other drivers behind them may not have time to react.
  • They Stop Suddenly to Turn, But Don’t: If a driver signals and slows as if to turn but then continues straight, it can catch following drivers off guard.
  • Brake Checking: Intentionally slamming on the brakes to deter a driver behind you is aggressive and dangerous, they can directly cause a rear-end collision.
  • They Fail to Signal: If a driver slows or stops without signaling, following drivers may not anticipate their actions.
  • Back-Up Accidents: If a driver backs up and fails to check their surroundings, they may cause a collision with a vehicle behind them.

In these situations, the rear driver may not bear sole responsibility for the accident. If you believe the other driver caused the rear-end accident, an experienced Denver car accident lawyer may help you.

Call Fuicelli & Lee for a free case evaluation. We have successfully helped many clients injured in rear-end collisions get the compensation they need.

Determining Blame in Rear-End Accidents

Establishing fault in a rear-end collision is often a complex process that requires carefully investigating and analyzing several factors. At Fuicelli & Lee, we thoroughly investigate Denver car accidents from multiple angles and review all possible evidence until we know how the crash occurred.

Our investigations include:

  • Reviewing Police Reports: We carefully review the official police report, paying close attention to the officers’ observations, statements from drivers and witnesses, and any citations issued.
  • Evaluating Physical Evidence: Our team examines the vehicle damage, skid marks, debris patterns, and any available photographs and video footage to reconstruct the accident sequence.
  • Interviewing Witnesses: We speak with any individuals who witnessed the incident, gathering their firsthand accounts and perspectives on what transpired.
  • Interpreting Traffic Laws: Our lawyers know Colorado traffic laws and regulations, which guide our assessment of rear-end car accidents and whether violations contributed to them.
  • Investigating Driver Conduct: We investigate potential driver behaviors, such as distractions, alcohol and drug use, driving record, and more, to understand factors that may have contributed to the collision.
  • Consulting Reconstruction Experts: When needed, we work with reputable accident reconstruction specialists who can provide detailed analyses based on the available evidence.

    Rear-End Accident Injuries

    A young woman suffering from a head injury after a serious rear-end collision on the road.

    Rear-end accidents range from mild fender benders to catastrophic, life-altering crashes. While some may result in little more than cosmetic damage, others can inflict devastating injuries upon all vehicle occupants. The severity depends on the speed of the vehicles involved, the impact angle, whether occupants were properly restrained, and many other factors.

    Even low-speed rear-end impacts can cause significant harm due to the sudden jolting force exerted on the body.

    Common injuries associated with these accidents include:

    • Whiplash: The harsh back-and-forth motion a rear-end accident causes can overstrain muscles and ligaments in the neck, leading to pain, stiffness, strain, and reduced mobility.
    • Back and spine injuries: The force of the collision can compress and herniate spinal discs, potentially causing chronic pain, numbness, or even paralysis in severe cases.
    • Head and brain trauma: The jarring impact may cause the head to slam the steering wheel, headrest, or window, resulting in concussions, skull fractures, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
    • Soft tissue damage: Sudden deceleration can stretch, tear, or otherwise injure muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body.
    • Psychological injuries: The trauma of the accident can cause psychological and emotional pain, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disturbances.
    • Internal organ damage: The immense force can cause internal bleeding, ruptured organs, or other life-threatening injuries.
    • Crushing injuries: In severe collisions, victims may sustain crushed limbs, pelvic fractures, or other crushing trauma.
    • Amputations: Extremely forceful impacts can sever limbs, requiring traumatic amputation.
    • Death: High-speed rear-end collisions can tragically result in fatalities, especially if the crash involves a tractor-trailer or other large, heavy commercial vehicle. More than 7 percent of rear-end collisions result in a fatality.

    Regardless of the perceived severity, seeking medical attention after any rear-end accident is critical, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent long-term complications and aid in recovery.

    Compensation for Denver Rear-End Accident Injuries

    An insurance agent examining a damaged car and filing a report for a claim form after a car accident. Traffic accident and insurance concept.

    If you or a family member were injured in a rear-end accident, you may be eligible for compensatory damages to cover your losses and hardships. Financial compensation helps make an injured party whole again after a crash injures them and upends their life.

    In rear-end accident cases, compensatory damages can cover:

    • Medical expenses: costs for ambulance services, emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and any ongoing treatment or care needed.
    • Lost wages: If your injuries made you miss work, you can recover compensation for the income you lost during your recovery period.
    • Loss of future earnings: For severe injuries that impair your ability to work, you may receive damages to cover the income you would have reasonably earned over your lifetime.
    • Property damage: You may seek compensation to repair or replace your vehicle and any other damaged personal property.
    • Pain and suffering: These damages account for the physical pain, emotional distress, and overall diminished quality of life resulting from your injuries.
    • Loss of enjoyment of life: When injuries cause permanent disabilities or impairments, you can seek compensation for losing your ability to participate in activities you once enjoyed.

    In rear-end crashes that result in death, the victim’s family can sue at-fault parties for all of the damages above, plus funeral and burial expenses.

    Comparative Negligence in Colorado

    Colorado follows a comparative negligence model to determine compensation for personal injuries caused by rear-end collisions. This means that if the court finds you partially at fault for the accident, your total compensation award is reduced by your percentage of fault.

    It’s important to note that this rule imposes a 50% threshold that bars an injured party from receiving any compensation. If you are 50% or more at fault for the accident, you cannot recover any damages.

    Colorado’s comparative negligence rule means you have a lot at stake if there is any question of fault in your accident. You will need an experienced, results-driven car accident lawyer who fights aggressively for your full and fair compensation.

    Fuicelli & Lee Can Help You

    At Fuicelli & Lee, our Denver personal injury lawyers are committed to excellence, fearless advocacy, and proven results. We offer every client dedicated, personalized attention to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. We fight tirelessly for their rights and provide clear, honest communication every step of the way.

    If someone else’s negligence injured you, contact us 24/7 for your free consultation at (303) 444-4444.

    Schedule a Free Consultation Today!