Understanding Liability in a Rear-End Collision in New Jersey

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on August 25, 2022  in Car Accident News. Updated on May 25, 2023

man talking on the phoneLiability for a rear-end collision, like other crashes, generally falls to the driver whose negligent actions resulted in the crash. This could be a distracted driver who rear-ended another vehicle. However, it could also be a third party who caused another driver to slam on the brakes.

If you were injured in a rear-end accident, our New Jersey auto collision attorneys are prepared to discuss your legal options. The consultation is free and there are no fees while we work on your case.

Below, we discuss different rear-end collision scenarios to help explain how liability may be determined in these crashes.


In the vast majority of rear-end collisions, the driver who crashes into the rear of another vehicle is assigned fault. Generally, this is because the rear driver was:

  • Distracted
  • Speeding
  • Drowsy/sleeping
  • Following too closely
  • Under the influence of drugs/alcohol

These actions are considered negligent, as drivers are expected to operate their vehicles in a responsible and reasonable manner to avoid a collision.


There are rare cases when the driver whose vehicle is hit from behind may be found at fault for the crash. There are several reasons why this could occur.

The first is that the driver who gets rear-ended unexpectedly slammed on the brakes for no apparent reason. This action is commonly known as “brake checking” and it is a form of aggressive driving. Drivers guilty of aggressive driving could be liable for damages caused by a collision.

In a brake-checking collision the insurance company may try to argue that the rear vehicle should have maintained appropriate following distance. However, there are times when this is more difficult. For example, while in bumper-to-bumper traffic, as is quite common on New Jersey highways. Even if the insurance company can successfully pin partial blame on the driver following too closely, it does not mean he or she is barred from recovering at least partial compensation under New Jersey’s comparative negligence laws.

There are other scenarios when the driver who is rear-ended may be liable, including if he or she:

  • Reverses into another vehicle
  • Has a vehicle with broken taillights/brake lights
  • Fails to use a turn signal when making a sudden turn


Fault for a rear-end collision may also fall to a third party not directly involved in the crash. Usually, this occurs when one driver cuts off another vehicle, forcing that driver to slam on his or her brakes. This can set off a domino effect when multiple drivers must brake suddenly until one vehicle finally slams into the rear of another.

Unfortunately, holding that first driver accountable for damages after cutting off a vehicle may be difficult. Even though that negligent behavior set the chain of events into motion, proving liability may be difficult. That first vehicle most likely suffered no damage, and the driver kept going without a care for what he or she did. In this instance, financial responsibility for that crash may fall on the driver who was driving too closely to others or was distracted.

There are some rare instances when you may be able to identify a driver that cuts off another vehicle. For instance, if you had a dash camera in your vehicle that captured events leading up to the crash.


Because New Jersey is a no-fault state, having the costs of your medical bills covered by your own insurance company is possible even if you were at fault or partially at fault for the rear-end collision. After the accident you would need to file a claim with your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, so your medical bills and other monetary damages are covered.

If you were not at fault for the rear-end collision, however, you may be eligible for additional compensation from the liability insurance of the at-fault driver. This includes non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Before you file a claim with either your own PIP or the liability insurance of the other driver, we strongly recommend that you seek legal help.

CALL Lynch Law Firm, PC TODAY

Our experienced attorneys are prepared to investigate every aspect of your claim to determine who is liable for your damages. You can discuss your legal options with a qualified attorney from our legal team during a free consultation.

If you choose to work with the Lynch Law Firm, PC, we do not charge you any upfront fees. There is no risk to you.

Call (800) 518-0508 today to get started.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

Trusted By:

  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
*No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.