All drivers of cars in California owe a duty to others on the road to observe what is happening around them and determine that their movements can be made with safety. They are also supposed to provide signals or warnings about what they intend to do if others are going to be affected by their movement. For example, a driver may hit the brakes even before coming to a stop to give the cars behind him a chance to slow as well. If you are injured in a sudden stop accident, you may be able to recover damages with the assistance of a Folsom car accident lawyer at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC.
Situations Involving Sudden Stop Accidents
Emergency conditions can come up that may require a driver to come to a sudden stop without any sort of signal. However, the drivers behind that driver also owe a duty of care to pay attention to a changing traffic landscape and respond appropriately. This can mean hitting the brakes harder and faster.
Drivers who negligently come to a sudden stop can be held accountable for damages by a passenger in their car or a car in front, or anyone else who was injured as a result of this conduct. It is less likely that a driver in front of you who came to a sudden stop was negligent if the stop was made as a result of a traffic signal, such as a stop sign or red light, since you are also supposed to keep an eye out for traffic signals.
Other people around the driver who may have negligently caused the need to stop suddenly can also be held accountable. The jury is supposed to examine the circumstances surrounding a collision to determine fault. In some cases, a police report may include violations of traffic laws that caused the accident, and these violations tend to be evidence of negligence. For example, under California Vehicle Code section 22350, nobody is supposed to drive faster than what is reasonable or prudent, having due regard for visibility, weather, traffic, and the width of the highway. For another example, California Vehicle Code section 21703 requires that a driver of a car should not follow another car more closely than what is reasonable and prudent, with due regard for the vehicle’s speed, traffic, and the condition of the road.
All drivers have a duty to properly maintain their cars and to signal and be responsive to emergencies. If, for example, a driver fails to fix his brake lights, and as a result the driver behind him is not alerted and does not have enough time to stop, it may be the driver who failed to fix his brake lights who is responsible for the rear-end accident.
However, all drivers also need to use reasonable care to follow at a safe distance so that they can stop suddenly, if needed. If a driver was tailgating you, and you needed to come to a stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian, but the driver then rear-ended you, it is likely that the jury would find that the driver following you too closely was negligent for tailgating. Sometimes, a chain reaction is created by a sudden stop. In other cases, there may be a collision between vehicles traveling in different directions due to one driver swerving to avoid a car in front of him that comes to a sudden stop.
Often, a defendant will raise the doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that the jury will look at whether you were partially to blame for the sudden stop accident. After hearing the evidence and the arguments from the attorneys, they will determine not only the damages but also the percentages of fault of each driver. Your damages will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault, if any is found.