Federal Appellate Court Discusses Presumption of Negligence in Rear-End Accident Cases

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.

The Presumption of Negligence and Why It Didn’t Apply

The court noted that a presumption of negligence does exist, but it chose not to apply it in this case because the court took issue with the plaintiff’s version of the facts. In essence, the court determined that the plaintiff’s story was not credible, and the post office employee likely did not have time to come to a complete stop due to the quick nature of the driver’s lane change. The court pointed to the testimony of the responding police officer, who explained that in his opinion the accident was caused by the driver’s quick and sudden lane change, and not the postal employee’s negligence.

Presumptions of Negligence Under Maryland Law

While this case arose after a Missouri accident, similar presumptions apply under Maryland law. For example, when a driver rear-ends another motorist, the driver who crashed into the rear of the other driver is presumed to be at fault. However, this is only a presumption, and it can be overcome by the presentation of evidence or testimony to the contrary. To learn more about presumptions of negligence in Maryland accident cases, contact a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Auto Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of serious Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for what you have been put through. This may include amounts for past medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Mother of Child Born with Cerebral Palsy Claims Doctor Was Negligent, Maryland Accident Law Blog, May 11, 2015.

Maryland Woman’s Medical Malpractice Claims Dismissed After Missing Statute of Limitations, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 8, 2015.

Contact Information