As a general rule you are required to maintain control if your vehicle and not strike the vehicle in fron't of you. However, if the vehicle in front if you has no valid reason for a sudden stop, they may be partially or even entirely at fault.
Rhode Island is a very small jurisdiction so it's important that you consider the possibility that people who you know may see your question or that the facts discussed here may be subject to discovery requests if you become involved in litigation. Please remember that it is not possible to give proper legal advice without a thorough consultation and this answer is meant only to provide you with some guidance. Contact an experienced attorney at your earliest convenience to discuss your case thoroughly. The above was provided purely for informational purposes and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the questioner and the attorney.
It's really hard to say from just a brief description of fact that you've provided on a site like this. For example, what caused the other vehicle to stop? Perhaps he or she had no choice given what other cars in the vicinity were doing. What you need to keep in mind is that liability in accidents is usually never clear cut, often disputed and always a question of fact. If you have insurance, turn it over to them and let them handle any claims and sort things out. That's why you have insurance. Best of luck to you...
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The facts are not absolutely clear. However, the fact that you were making a lane change, paying attention to your side view mirror and hit the rear-end of another vehicle does not bode well for you. You should immediately turn the matter over to your own insurance company for investigation and defense.
You have an obligation to keep a safe lookout - as do the other drivers - If you entered the lane of another and they did not give way, you are probably as much at fault as the other driver.
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Thank you for your question. My office is located in Cranston, RI. Determining "fault," also known as "liability," presents an issue of fact in this situation. In other words, each side is entitled to present evidence to the fact finder, such as a jury, and the factfinder makes the ultimate determination. Some relevant considerations here include: (1) What was the point of impact between the two vehicles; (2) Were there any witnesses able to testify concerning the actions of each driver?. Factfinders are instructed to assess the facts and apply them to the law. For example, in Rhode Island, the Model Civil Jury Instructions include an instruction that a motorist who strikes the rear of another vehicle is "presumed" to have acted with negligence. This presumption may be rebutted with other evidence. Hope this helps.
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