If i rear ended a car that illegally stopped on a 4 lane devided highway, can i go after her insurance company for lost wages, repair deductable ect. ?

The accident happened at around 8 pm.
On a 4 lane highway with a turning
lane. The driver failed to use turning
lane and stopped completely in left
travel lane.

Asked on May 22, 2016 under Accident Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First, you don't "go after their insurance": you notify either the at-fault driver or (if you have their information) their insurer that you are making a claim; but if the driver and/or the insurer choose to not pay you, you would have to sue the driver, not the insurer. The insurer's obligation is not to pay your claim--it is to protect their drivery by paying for him or her if and when they believe he/she will have to pay or there is a court judgment against him or her. So while you can put a claim into the insurer if you have all the relevant information, you have to think in terms of "going after" the driver him/herself if your claim is denied.
Second, there is a good chance your claim will be denied, even if the driver did stop illegally: the rear or following driver is under an obligation to maintain a safe following distance and/or speed, and to stay alert and pay attention, so that he or she can stop in time if the front car does come to a sudden stop. (Even cars in travel lanes sometimes stop abruptly, such as if they see road debris ahead of them, a pedestrian or animal wanders into the road, etc.--you have to be prepared for travel lane stops.) Generally, the rear driver in a rear-end collision is held to be at fault, since the collision should not have happened if he/she was following at a safe speed and distance and was alert. Since you were the rear driver, there is a good chance that the insurer will conclude that you were at least as much at fault as their driver and decline to voluntarily pay you.
That said, there are circumstances under which the front driver can be at least partially (or rarely, fully) at fault, typically involving sufficiently sudden and unexpected stops, where the front driver had no good reason (e.g collision avoidance) for the stop. So if neither the other driver nor his/her insurer chooses to pay you, you can file a lawsuit with a chance of winning, but must be prepared that you may well lose.
If you should win, you could recover for lost wages, repairs, deductible, etc. to the extent not paid by your own insurance.

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