Recently, a state appellate court handed down an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an issue that will be of interest to many Virginia car accident victims. The case required the court to discuss one defendant’s potential liability in a multi-vehicle accident that began with an instance of road rage. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant was not liable based on his reaction to another driver’s road-rage induced erratic driving.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was on a highway on-ramp about to get onto the highway when a driver quickly came up from behind her, passed her, and made an obscene gesture as he did so. The plaintiff changed lanes to get behind the car that had just passed her, and as she did that car slammed on its brakes. To avoid what would have been a certain collision, the plaintiff also slammed on her brakes. The driver behind her did the same.
The defendant was two cars behind the plaintiff. As the vehicle behind the plaintiff applied the brakes, the defendant braked as well. However, because his truck was fully loaded with cargo, he was unable to stop in time and ran into the back of car in front of him. That vehicle was pushed into the plaintiff’s car, injuring the plaintiff.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that he was negligent in failing to come to a complete stop and avoid an accident. The defendant argued that he acted reasonably given the “sudden emergency” that he was forced to deal with. The court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court agreed that the defendant had acted reasonably under the circumstances and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. The court relied on what it called the “sudden emergency” doctrine. The court explained that when a defendant can prove that he took reasonable actions in response to a sudden emergency which he did not cause, he may be excused from liability.
Here, the court determined that the road rage of the driver that slammed on his brakes created a sudden emergency. From there, the court noted that the defendant did nothing to cause that driver to slam on his brakes. Finally, the court held that the defendant’s actions were reasonable given the circumstances. Thus, the court determined that the defendant established each of the elements of the affirmative defense.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the Law Offices of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. we represent injury victims in a wide range of Virginia personal injury lawsuits, including car and truck accidents. Attorney Charles Roberts takes a unique approach to his representation. In addition to his zealous advocacy, Attorney Roberts ensures that his clients are kept well-informed throughout the entire process. To learn more, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation and speak with Attorney Roberts about your case.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit Based on Defendant’s Argument that Plaintiff Had Equal Knowledge of the Hazard that Caused Her Fall, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, July 6, 2018.
Slip-and-Fall Accidents in Virginia Grocery Stores, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 18, 2018.