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Rear-end Accidents

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Rear-End Accidents

Brien Roche

Rear-End Accidents From The Virginia Supreme Court

There are a number of reported rear-end accident cases from the Virginia Supreme Court. In one case a flat bed truck was parked in one lane of an undivided highway. The plaintiff rounded a sharp curve and was temporarily blinded. The plaintiff did not see the truck stopped in that lane. He rear-ended the vehicle. The Virginia Supreme Court said that it was error for the trial court to rule that this was contributory negligence as a matter of law. The case should have been submitted to the jury for verdict. It was up to the jury to decide who was at fault. Likewise it was their job to decide whether that fault was in fact a cause of the crash.

In another case a tractor trailer was improperly stopped on the roadway. It was not lit at night. That alone presented an issue of whether or not the plaintiff was guilty of fault. In other words was there fault in not seeing the stopped vehicle.

Stalling

In another case a car began to stall while it was en route to a gas station. The auto had previously stalled because of the lack of gas. While en route to the gas station the car was rear-ended. The other car was traveling within the speed limit. The stalling vehicle had no emergency flashers on. The court ruled that the issue of fault was for the jury. The fault may be in regard to the lack of flashers. Also it may be in regards to failing to maintain the proper fuel level. Both of these created a jury question as to the fault of that first car.

Prima Facie Case

It is settled that the mere fact that a rear-end accident occurs does not dictate that the striking vehicle is at fault. However that rear-end accident may create what is called a prima facie case of fault. In other words the injured party who is rear ended has made out a basic claim. The claim should be allowed to proceed forward. The burden rests on the striking vehicle to show why it rear-ended the other vehicle. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Sudden Stopping

There are a number of cases involving sudden stopping on the highway. In fact in one case I argued on behalf of a defendant that the plaintiff had stopped suddenly. That was sufficient to justify a jury instruction based on the fault of the plaintiff. I further argued that fault on the plaintiff’s part should bar the claim. In fact the jury agreed with me. They awarded the plaintiff no damages.

Sudden Emergency

In those cases where there is alleged to be a mechanical failure that contributes to a rear-end accident that may justify what is called a “sudden emergency instruction”. A sudden emergency arises in those cases where there is no fault on the part of the defendant. In other words the defendant had no reason to know or suspect a mechanical failure. Therefore the sudden stopping or sudden mechanical failure is not the fault of that defendant. Furthermore the defendant should not be liable in that case.

Entering Highway

Likewise where a vehicle is pulling onto the roadway and is rear-ended presents difficult questions of who is at fault. The entry on the highway may be at a low speed from the shoulder or from an intersecting roadway. It may be that the car entering the roadway is at fault. Also it may be that the striking vehicle is at fault.

There also are a number of cases where a motorist brakes in order to avoid an animal in the road. Those cases can present jury issues as to who is at fault. By a jury issue I mean that the case should be allowed to proceed so that it is submitted to the jury for a final decision.

Following Too Close As Cause of Rear-End Accidents

In most rear-end accident cases the issue of fault comes down to whether the striking vehicle was following too closely. Virginia Code § 46.2-816 clearly says that a driver shall not follow another motor vehicle more closely than is reasonable.

Each driver must have due regard to the speed of both vehicles, the traffic on the highway and the conditions of the highway. For instance what may be fault on the part of a striking vehicle on a dry road may not be fault when the road is wet or covered with snow or ice. Likewise the type of vehicle may be relevant in determining what is reasonable. The distance to be maintained by a truck may not be the same as that required for a car. Likewise the distance to be maintained from a motor cycle may not be the same as the distance to be maintained from a motor vehicle. If a motor cycle is rear-ended that is probably going to result in catastrophic injury to the driver. All of those circumstances may be considered by a judge or jury in deciding the merits of a case.

Contact Us

Call, or contact us for a free consult. For more information on vehicle accidents see the other pages on this site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Rear-end Accidents

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Rear-End Accidents

Brien Roche

Rear-End Accidents From The Virginia Supreme Court

There are a number of reported rear-end accident cases from the Virginia Supreme Court. In one case a flat bed truck was parked in one lane of an undivided highway. The plaintiff rounded a sharp curve and was temporarily blinded. The plaintiff did not see the truck stopped in that lane. He rear-ended the vehicle. The Virginia Supreme Court said that it was error for the trial court to rule that this was contributory negligence as a matter of law. The case should have been submitted to the jury for verdict. It was up to the jury to decide who was at fault. Likewise it was their job to decide whether that fault was in fact a cause of the crash.

In another case a tractor trailer was improperly stopped on the roadway. It was not lit at night. That alone presented an issue of whether or not the plaintiff was guilty of fault. In other words was there fault in not seeing the stopped vehicle.

Stalling

In another case a car began to stall while it was en route to a gas station. The auto had previously stalled because of the lack of gas. While en route to the gas station the car was rear-ended. The other car was traveling within the speed limit. The stalling vehicle had no emergency flashers on. The court ruled that the issue of fault was for the jury. The fault may be in regard to the lack of flashers. Also it may be in regards to failing to maintain the proper fuel level. Both of these created a jury question as to the fault of that first car.

Prima Facie Case

It is settled that the mere fact that a rear-end accident occurs does not dictate that the striking vehicle is at fault. However that rear-end accident may create what is called a prima facie case of fault. In other words the injured party who is rear ended has made out a basic claim. The claim should be allowed to proceed forward. The burden rests on the striking vehicle to show why it rear-ended the other vehicle. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Sudden Stopping

There are a number of cases involving sudden stopping on the highway. In fact in one case I argued on behalf of a defendant that the plaintiff had stopped suddenly. That was sufficient to justify a jury instruction based on the fault of the plaintiff. I further argued that fault on the plaintiff’s part should bar the claim. In fact the jury agreed with me. They awarded the plaintiff no damages.

Sudden Emergency

In those cases where there is alleged to be a mechanical failure that contributes to a rear-end accident that may justify what is called a “sudden emergency instruction”. A sudden emergency arises in those cases where there is no fault on the part of the defendant. In other words the defendant had no reason to know or suspect a mechanical failure. Therefore the sudden stopping or sudden mechanical failure is not the fault of that defendant. Furthermore the defendant should not be liable in that case.

Entering Highway

Likewise where a vehicle is pulling onto the roadway and is rear-ended presents difficult questions of who is at fault. The entry on the highway may be at a low speed from the shoulder or from an intersecting roadway. It may be that the car entering the roadway is at fault. Also it may be that the striking vehicle is at fault.

There also are a number of cases where a motorist brakes in order to avoid an animal in the road. Those cases can present jury issues as to who is at fault. By a jury issue I mean that the case should be allowed to proceed so that it is submitted to the jury for a final decision.

Following Too Close As Cause of Rear-End Accidents

In most rear-end accident cases the issue of fault comes down to whether the striking vehicle was following too closely. Virginia Code § 46.2-816 clearly says that a driver shall not follow another motor vehicle more closely than is reasonable.

Each driver must have due regard to the speed of both vehicles, the traffic on the highway and the conditions of the highway. For instance what may be fault on the part of a striking vehicle on a dry road may not be fault when the road is wet or covered with snow or ice. Likewise the type of vehicle may be relevant in determining what is reasonable. The distance to be maintained by a truck may not be the same as that required for a car. Likewise the distance to be maintained from a motor cycle may not be the same as the distance to be maintained from a motor vehicle. If a motor cycle is rear-ended that is probably going to result in catastrophic injury to the driver. All of those circumstances may be considered by a judge or jury in deciding the merits of a case.

Contact Us

Call, or contact us for a free consult. For more information on vehicle accidents see the other pages on this site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation