There are cases that have determined as an outcome the car stopping short was the negligent person in the accident. Each is done on a case by case method. Following too close to avoid collision is often times deemed negligent conduct. Stopping short is not deemed negligent conduct as often.
There is a presumption of negligence if you rear end another vehicle. It is defined as driving to closely. The defense that you often hear is a sudden emergency defense. How would you possibly know that the driver in front intentionally wanted to be hit? If they admitted to the police that they slammed on the brakes because they wanted to be hit, than that would be a defense. I would imagine that would not happen very often.
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In most cases, liability will rest with the person who rear-ended the other vehicle. The concept is that one is supposed to keep enough distance between their car and the vehicle in front to stop in time even if the car in front slams on its brakes suddenly. The driver of the car who rear-ended the other car should contact his insurance company and report this incident.
General answers to legal questions such as this should not be construed as legal advice. I am licensed to practice actively in Delaware. Please consult with an attorney in your state in person to obtain legal advice.
Hopefully the police were called. Historically the car that rear-ended the other one is usually at fault. However, if the driver in front of you slams on his brakes for no reason and you hit him then that is an entirely different set of facts. In this situation a police officer needs to sort out what happens and issue the appropriate tickets.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
Colorado Jury Instruction for Civil Trials § 11:12 holds that “When a driver of a motor vehicle hits another in the rear, the law presumes and you must find that the driver was negligent.” The presumption can be overcome by evidence of the negligent or intentional conduct of the driver in the first vehicle. It is advisable to retain a competent lawyer to handle such a case and to fully investigate the conduct of the first driver.
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