If you rear-end another vehicle can you maintain a viable claim against that driver? Recently, a prospective client contacted me with this question. In that case, driver 1’s car stopped running and was stationary in the right hand lane of traffic on a bridge. Driver 2, was an SUV that failed to stop in time and struck Driver 1. Driver 3 (prospective client) was in a small car behind the SUV and Driver 3’s view was obstructed of Driver 1 due to the size of Driver 2’s SUV. Driver 3 rear-ended Driver 2.
Missouri is a pure comparative fault state. This allows the judge / jury to compare the fault of each party. At the conclusion of the trial the judge / jury would decide what degree of fault (0 to 100) each driver has. Driver 3’s recover will be reduced by the amount of fault allocated to her (ie $100,000 verdict with 25% fault means she would receive $75,000).
Under this scenario Driver 1 has a duty to try and get as far off the road as possible when the car loses power. Driver 1 also has a duty to warn other drivers of the situation (i.e. put out flares, etc.) Driver 2 has a duty to keep a careful look out and avoid the collision with Driver 1. Driver 3 also has a duty to keep a careful lookout. In this case all three drivers will probably get assessed some degree of fault. Driver 3 still has a viable claim against both Drivers 1 and 2. The degree of fault assessed against those respective drivers would depend on several factors, how long Driver 1 was sitting stationary, how fast Driver 2 was going, etc.