Rear-End Collisions: When Liability Is Not Clear
For the most part, personal injury attorneys consider rear-ending collisions – collisions where a driver fails to stop and collides into the back-end of a car in front of them – as “clear liability” accident cases. In most rear-end collisions, the cause is a driver not paying attention, a driver going too fast, or a combination of the two. With this classification, they do not expect any disputes over the liability. However, it not always the case that there is “clear liability” on the part of the rear-ender, and, therefore, they can be problematic.
A very good example is a recent landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal in the Second District. In the case of Shiver v. Laramee, 2018 DJDAR 5645, the court upheld a ruling in favor of a truck driver, the defendant, who had rear-ended the plaintiff’s car. In the case, the defendant’s team of lawyers were able to demonstrate that the rear-end collision arose from a sudden and unexpected emergency that occurred due to a road-raging driver brake checking the lead driver in a string of cars. Among those affected by the sudden were the plaintiff and the truck driver.
In using the “the sudden emergency doctrine” the court described it as protecting a defendant from liability in the case of sudden and unexpected emergency that has the potential for “actual/ apparent danger of immediate injury” in instances where the defendant never caused the accident and acted as a reasonably careful person would have under the same circumstances. Read CACI No. 452.
According to eh court, the following facts were significant to the case: the situation in question was unanticipated given the fact that car entering the freeway do so and accelerate. Moreover, the sole cause of the emergency leading to the accident was the sudden unexpected braking of the road-raging driver. Finally, the truck driver acted reasonably under the circumstance that
The results of this case must have been a terrible blow to the plaintiff. Considering the collision had occurred in September 2014 and he had been dealing with the lawsuit for more 4 years, he had invested a lot of time, effort, and money into the case. Being unable to recover anything from the rear-ender truck driver was a huge blow.
There is potential for roadblocks for recovery to arise during a case’s discovery phase. As such, it is of critical importance that you hire a competent, effective, and experienced attorney to guide you through the murky water of rear-end collision litigation.