Who is at fault in this auto accident?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Who is at fault in this auto accident?

Vehicle 1 was on the shoulder of a 3
lane divided highway because he ran out
of gas. He claims that he was not
blocking traffic at all. Vehicle 2 hit
vehicle 1, then vehicle 3 hit vehicle 2.
My husband was driving vehicle 3. He
wasn’t speeding and was following at a
safe distance. He served and braked and
ended up hitting the left rear corner of
vehicle 2. Who is at fault? Does vehicle
one get any blame for running out of gas
on a highway? If he wasn’t blocking
traffic, then why did vehicle 2 hit him?
I would think that vehicle 2 would be at
fault for hitting the parked car, and
since they stopped so abruptly
apparently from hitting vehicle 1
would we vehicle 3 have any fault?

Asked on February 19, 2019 under Accident Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Vehicle 2 is definitely at fault, assuming that this was not unusually heavy fog or other atypically bad visibility conditions: they hit a stationary object/vehicle. Regardless of why the object/vehicle was in the way, or where exactly it was located, to hit a visible stationary object is by definition careless or negligent.
Vehcile 3 may be at fault, too: it depends on the exact circumstances. Some examples:
Vehicle 3's driver was able to see Vehicle 1 ahead of Vehicle 2; seeing a stationary vehicle ahead, Vehicle 3 driver's should have swerved wider around it or slowed more so as to be able to stop. The failure to take reasonable steps to avoid an accident would lead to fault.
Vehicle 1 was on the shoulder and Vehicle 2 hit it on the shoulder: Vehicle 3 would likely be at fault since Vehicle 3 should not have been driving where it could hit anything on the road's shoulder.
Vehicle 1 was on the road (in a travel lane) and Vehicle 3 could not see Vehicle ahead of Vehicle 2, and only became aware of the situation when Vehicle 2 came to a sudden, unexpected, "crashing" stop: in this case, 3 would most likely not be at fault, since 2, hitting a stopped object, would have decelerated much faster than usual (no reason to expect a car to almost instantly stop--that doesn't happen absent an impact) and 3 had no way to see the hazard up ahead. In this case, 3 could not reasonably have avoided the collision and was not at fault.
So you have to look at where vehicles 1 and 2 where, and what 3 could see, to determine if 3 was at fault. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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