Most drivers assume that if a motorist hits them from behind, that motorist will be liable for any damages incurred. Although this is often the case, each auto accident is unique, and there are some exceptions to the presumption of guilt when determining fault in rear-end collisions.
In Anderson v. May, the Louisiana Court of Appeal stipulated that the motorist in the rear bears the burden of proving that he or she was not negligent. Thus, although it is presumed that the following motorist is liable for causing a rear-end collision, the court provides said motorist the opportunity to prove otherwise.
The driver who was in back may be able to overcome the presumption of guilt by demonstrating that he or she:
- Had full control of the vehicle prior to the collision;
- Was fully aware of his or her surroundings;
- Had left a safe amount of distance between his or her own car and the vehicle ahead; and
- Could not have reasonably avoided the collision because of a hazard that the vehicle ahead created.
If you were injured in a rear-end collision, an auto accident attorney from Laborde Earles Law Firm can evaluate your case, gather evidence, and help you make a claim for the maximum compensation. Our award-winning personal injury team has recovered more than $200 million for our clients. Call 800-522-6733 to schedule a free consultation with a car wreck lawyer in Lafayette.
What Is the Sudden Emergency Doctrine?
All drivers have a duty not to behave in a way that puts other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians at risk. There are several ways a driver could breach that duty of care—for example, by speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Following too closely would also constitute a breach of this duty of care, which is why a driver would be liable for a rear-end collision if he or she was tailgating. In certain circumstances, though, motorists may not be able to avoid a rear-end collision.
When determining liability in such a scenario, the sudden emergency doctrine would come into play. This doctrine stipulates that motorists are not liable for resulting collisions if they come across an unanticipated hazard that they could not reasonably avoid.
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For example, if you are traveling a safe distance behind a vehicle and it suddenly stops short but there is no shoulder for you to swerve onto, a collision is essentially inevitable. In this scenario, you may be able to use the sudden emergency doctrine to prove that you were not actually negligent.
If you were hurt in a collision that you did not cause, a car wreck lawyer from Laborde Earles Law Firm will help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim. Our firm has the highest possible rating – an AV preeminent rating – from Martindale-Hubbell.
Call 800-522-6733 to schedule a free case evaluation with an auto accident attorney in Lafayette. You can learn more about car accident claims in Louisiana by visiting the USAttorneys website.