Under Maryland case law, courts will impose a presumption of negligence on a rear driver in cases where that driver strikes a vehicle that is stopped in front of them. The presumption allows the fact-finder (either the judge or the jury) to infer that the driver of the rear vehicle was negligent. Maryland rear-end collisions and “fender bender” accidents are the most frequently occurring type of collision in the state. Despite the rate of occurrence, these accidents can result in serious physical and property damage.
Accident reconstructionists explain that rear-ending a stopped vehicle can be the equivalent of hitting a concrete wall at half the speed the moving car was traveling. In an effort to reduce the severity of these accidents, Maryland traffic law § 21-310(a)(2005 mandates that motorists should not follow another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent.” Further, the statute explains that motorists should have regard for the speed of the vehicles around them and the highway’s condition.
Although the law permits the presumption of negligence in a rear-end accident, there are some cases where the accident was not the rear driver’s fault. For example, a recent news report described a motorcycle collision where it is unclear who was at fault. The preliminary investigation revealed that a motorcycle driver was traveling north when he hit the back of a sedan. The motorcyclist died at the accident scene, and the sedan driver and passenger did not suffer any injuries. Police state that an investigation of the accident is continuing.