Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case that discussed the presumption of negligence that arises when one driver rear-ends another driver in the context of a personal injury suit. In the case of Lopez v. United States, Lopez, the plaintiff, sought monetary damages from the United States government after an accident that she was involved in with a postal employee.
According to the court’s opinion, Lopez was traveling as a passenger in a vehicle being operated by a friend. The lane in which they were traveling came to an end at the intersection that was quickly approaching. The driver of the vehicle switched lanes into the lane that was occupied by the postal truck. The truck rear-ended the vehicle that the plaintiff was inside and pushed it a short distance into the intersection. The airbags did not deploy, and the vehicle was able to be driven home by its owner.
A short time later, Lopez filed suit against the United States government, claiming that the postal employee was negligent in rear-ending the vehicle in which she was riding. Lopez pointed to a presumption under Missouri law that arises in rear-end accident cases and states that the driver who crashes into the rear of another driver is presumed to be at fault. However, the court failed to apply the doctrine and found in favor of the defendant.