Visitor Question

Rear ended stopped car…

Submitted By: Gary (Norfolk, VA)

I was traveling down a 4 lane highway, two lanes each way. I was following another vehicle which suddenly switched lane due to a car stopped in the lane ahead. I hit the brakes and rear ended the car stopped in the lane. The car was preparing to make a left turn across two yellow lines into a church parking lot.

Is contributory negligence a factor here? Does the car that switched lanes directly in front of me have any liability for this accident? Does the car making the left turn have any responsibility? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Gary,

In most cases, the driver following behind who collides with the driver in front is culpable, although there are mitigating factors. They include contributory / comparative negligence.

While your facts don’t deal with the issue of police presence, we can presume from the multiple collision police were dispatched to the scene. If so, the police officer investigating the collision will have completed a Police Accident Report. That report can be used to conclude to some degree the contributory negligence of each party.

See if tickets were issued to either driver for improper lane changes, failure to signal, or failure to yield. If so, that is evidence of contributory negligence.

Make sure your insurance company has a copy of the police report. Moreover, any insurance adjuster who contacts you should have a copy of the report. If the adjuster doesn’t have a copy, and the report shows evidence of contributory negligence, it may change the insurance company’s assessment of fault.

Learn more here: Virginia Car Accident Guide

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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