Is the Driver in Front Responsible for a Rear-End Shunt?

The Court of Appeal has recently given Judgment in a case involving a seemingly classic rear-end shunt road traffic accident, holding each driver partially to blame for the accident.

In Ali v D’Brass the Claimant was driving his BMW along a dual carriageway and the Defendant was driving his Transit van on the same road around three car lengths behind.  A third vehicle approached in the inside lane at speed and cut in front of the Claimant, causing him to brake.  The Defendant was forced to brake at the same time, and the third vehicle then sped off.  The Claimant accelerated again, as did the Defendant, and by this time the Defendant was only around 1/2 a car length behind the Claimant.  However, the Claimant suddenly braked again without warning and the Defendant collided with the rear of his car.  The Claimant sustained personal injuries in the road traffic accident and brought an action against the Defendant for driving too close and failing to leave sufficient stopping distance.

At first instance the Claimant’s case was dismissed on the basis that the Claimant was wholly responsible for the accident as he had braked without warning and for no good reason.  The Claimant appealed the decision and at the Court of Appeal it was held that the Defendant driver was primarily responsible and should bear 60% of the blame, as the accident would not have occurred if he had provided sufficient stopping distance.  The Claimant was held to be 40% liable as he had braked unnecessarily.

Most people believe that a rear-end shunt will always be the fault of the driver who collides with the car in front but this case shows that that Judges are unwilling to take a blinkered view of liability and each case will be decided on its own merits.  Judges have arrived at decisions in favour of the driver at the rear who collides with another vehicle in many other situations, including where that vehicle’s vision was obstructed by smoke emitting from a damaged lorry and where the driver has been unable to avoid colliding with a stationary vehicle parked on an icy road which was not displaying its hazard lights.

These accidents can involve complex liability arguments and it is essential that you seek advice from an expert Solicitor experienced in complex Road Traffic Accident claims.  If you have been involved in a road traffic accident call David Mayor or any of our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 975 2463, or contact us by email for free expert legal advice.

David Mayor

About David Mayor

David is Head of the Preston Office's Civil Litigation team and deals with all types of private Civil Court disputes. David’s blogs cover his expertise in all aspects of personal injury law from low value Road Traffic Accidents right through to complex large loss claims. David also writes and has a vast array of experience in Public Liability (trips and slips), Employer's Liability (accidents at work), and Motor Claims (motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents).
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