When a New Orleans personal injury auto accident occurs, the driver who is at fault is responsible for paying any damages arising from the collision. While which driver is responsible is usually a question of fact that must be decided by a judge or jury, it helps the injured party’s case if he or she was struck from behind.
This is because in Louisiana, a following motorist is presumed to be negligent if he or she collides with the rear of the leading vehicle. When this situation occurs, it is assumed that the rear driver either did not leave sufficient space between the vehicles to allow for making a safe stop under normal driving conditions, or failed to pay proper attention to the events taking place ahead. Because of this presumption, instead of the injured party having to prove the rear driver was negligent, the burden is placed on the following motorist to prove that he or she was not negligent.
This rule does not, however, mean that the driver of the vehicle who was struck from behind is always free from fault. If the rear driver was suddenly faced with an unexpected hazard created by a preceding vehicle – a hazard that he or she could not reasonably be expected to avoid – then the rear driver may be found free from fault. This defense, however, cannot be relied upon in situations where the rear driver actually created the sudden emergency. Also, even if an emergency did exist, the rear driver is still responsible for using reasonable care to avoid it. Failure to do so may still result in a finding of negligence against the following driver.
If you have been involved in an auto accident and have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER. We would be happy to help you.