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Proving liability after a tailgating accident

When a tailgating crash occurs in Illinois, liability for the accident may ultimately be tied to driver negligence or a moving violation. The initial determination of which driver is at fault, however, may depend on the precise set of circumstances in play at the time that the incident took place. Although fault in a tailgating accident may seem obvious, proving liability in court may not always be easy.


A negligence claim is generally premised on the elements of duty, breach, causation and damages. In order to prevail in court, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care and then breached this duty by tailgating. The plaintiff must also prove that the breach of duty resulted in injury to the plaintiff and that the injuries resulted from the tailgating incident and not from another cause. Finally, the plaintiff must prove the damages that are being claimed.


If law enforcement officials cite the alleged at-fault driver for tailgating, the plaintiff could introduce evidence of the violation in civil court. The plaintiff could also present eyewitness statements, police reports and photographs to the court to establish liability in the case.


Motorists are required to use due care when they are behind the wheel, and maintaining a safe distance between vehicles could prevent some rear-end car crashesfrom occurring. In tailgating situations, the defendant could claim that the plaintiff's broken brake light or unreasonably quick stop contributed to an accident, so before going to court, the injured party may want to seek legal counsel. After evaluating the case, the attorney may be able to negotiate a fair settlement with the tailgating driver's insurance company.


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