Can you be held liable for an accident id the car that you hit was stopped in the road without any emergency lights on?

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Can you be held liable for an accident id the car that you hit was stopped in the road without any emergency lights on?

My father got into an accident a couple days ago driving on the freeway. He hit a car in front of him, however apparently there was already a collision that had happened where the car he hit, hit another car. Although the car in front of my father didn’t have his emergency lights or break lights on, therefore my dad didn’t know to stop and kept going until it was too late. He’s wondering if it’s his fault since the car he hit didn’t have any type of warning and apparently the engine was off in the middle of the highway.

Asked on May 29, 2017 under Accident Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your father is still most likely at fault UNLESS he can show that the lighting conditions were such (e.g. highway on dark night, no streetlights near) that without the car ahead of him having lights, he could not reasonably see it. In that case, if the case was effectively "invisible" to him in the dark, he may be able to show it was not his fault.
But if the car itself could be seen, then your father would be fault, since drivers are obligated to be traveling at such safe speed, and paying sufficient attention, that they can stop if a car ahead of them itself comes to a stop suddenly; a failure to do this would make your father at fault.


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