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La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 32:81 A provides that, the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway. While a following motorist may assume that the vehicle in front is being driven with care and caution, he must drive at an appropriate speed and must maintain an interval between the two vehicles as would enable him to avoid a collision with the lead vehicle under circumstances which should be reasonably anticipated. The presumption of negligence in a rear-end collision is on the following driver and he bears the burden of exonerating himself.
The driver and his passenger were struck from behind by a garbage truck. Although the garbage truck driver agreed to go for help, he did not return, and the tow truck that he promised to call never arrived. The driver and the passenger filed suit against the garbage company and its insurer. Judgment was entered in favor of the driver and the passenger.
Did trial court err in finding that the truck was at fault in the accident?
In affirming the decision, the court held that the factual finding that the garbage company's truck was involved in a traffic accident on the day and time alleged by the driver and his passenger was based on credibility determinations. Further, the sudden emergency doctrine was not applicable. The driver of the garbage company's truck knew of the hazardous road conditions. There was sufficient testimony, from both the driver, the passenger and the passengers in the following vehicle, to establish that there was snow and ice on the roads before the van stalled. The hazardous road conditions did not suddenly arise. The driver of the garbage truck should have been reasonably anticipated the driver stopping his vehicle under those conditions.