Liability

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Liability

I rear-ended someone due to him stopping suddenly because of a car in front of him stopping suddenly he rear-ended them due to my rear ending him. I fully understand that I have liability here. Does the first car potentially have any responsibility for stopping suddenly in the middle of the road. The second driver confirmed to me that it was a fast stop and there appeared to be no apparent reason for it.

Asked on August 19, 2018 under Accident Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

While it is not impossible the first car bears some liability--cases like this are decided on their specific facts, and strong evidence of fault on that car's part (a completely sudden, expected, too-fast stop) coupled with evidence of careful driving on your part can overturn the usual presumption (see below)--it is more likely that you will be held to be mostly or even entirely at fault.
The problem is that the law presumes that the rear driver is at fault. It does this because you can't predict when the car in front of you may stop suddenly--maybe the driver sees road debris or a large pothole he must avoid; maybe a person or animal darts into traffic--and so the rear driver is obligated to drive at a speed and with  following distance that would let him or her stop abruptly if the lead car does. You are expected to be able to stop if and when the car ahead of you stops without warning, and so if you hit, the presumption is, you were too close, too fast, or not paying attention.
 
 


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