Presumption of Negligence in Rear-End Accident

Presumption of Negligence in Rear-End Accident

A presumption of negligence arises where a motor vehicle is stopped and that vehicle is suddenly struck from behind by another vehicle. From that presumption, the trier of fact may reasonably infer negligence on the part of the driver of the following vehicle.

Case Study: Andrade v. Housein, 147 Md. App. 617 (2002).

In most jurisdictions, there is law that sets forth in general terms the distance to be maintained by a motor vehicle from the one ahead of it, such as a “reasonable and prudent” distance. The relevant Maryland statute is Maryland Transportation Code Annotated, § 21-310(a) (2005), which states, in pertinent part:

“The driver of a motor vehicle may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the other vehicle and of the traffic on and the condition of the highway.”

Accordingly, drivers following another motorist must remain a sufficient distance behind so as to be able to avoid hitting the driver in front of them.

According to the Court of Special Appeals in Andrade v. Housein, 147 Md. App. 617 (2002), found that, in rear-end car crashes, plaintiffs receive a presumption in favor of their injured clients that the rear-end collision was caused by the rear-ending drivers’ negligence. Accordingly, the jury instruction set forth above is appropriate in a rear-end accident case. This presumption of negligence in Maryland rear-end accidents is, however, rebuttable by the defendant.

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