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While the driver of the following automobile is charged with operating his car so as to have it under control, he is only held liable for not avoiding foreseeable dangers and emergencies whether or not created by the forward driver's negligence, not being held to the duty of anticipating as occurrence such as this case presents as where a dog suddenly darts across the path of the lead vehicle. Taylor v. Genuine Parts Co., 192 So.2d 241 (La.App. 4th Cir., 1966).
Both cars owned by plaintiff Frederick Deiler and defendant Henry P. Clayton were proceeding south on Louisiana Highway 406, a two-lane, two-way road. The plaintiff’s car was preceding the defendant’s automobile, which was pulling a 15-and-one-half foot boat on a trailer. Suddenly, the plaintiff’s vehicle was forced to come to a complete stop to avoid striking several large logs which were lying partially across the highway. Defendant put on his brakes as soon as he saw plaintiff’s brake-lights go on, but his car slid into the plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff subsequently sued Clayton. The trial court ruled against the plaintiff, holding that the defendant could not be held responsible for damages as he was faced with a sudden emergency. Plaintiff appealed.
Under the circumstances, could the defendant be held liable for damages resulting from a rear-end vehicle collision?
The court affirmed the finding of the trial court that defendant was faced with a sudden emergency when plaintiff suddenly stopped in front of him, and that defendant was not responsible for the damages resulting from the rear-end collision. Based on the sequence of events, from the swerving of a car to the braking of plaintiff's vehicle to the braking of defendant's vehicle, the events were so quick that defendant could not have seen the emergency situation in time to avoid the accident. The court found that the distance and speed at which defendant was following plaintiff were reasonable under the circumstances.