One of the most common types of accident cases is one vehicle striking another from behind, commonly called the rear-end accident. When we pursue a claim for a client injured in a rear-end accident, proving liability on the part of the defendant is usually pretty easy. Our client stopped and the defendant did not stop. The accident happened, our client was injured and is entitled to a recovery for damages sustained.
Part of the proof we use against the defendant is the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Law. Section 3361 of the Motor vehicle Code, titled Driving a Vehicle at Safe Speed, requires a driver to drive at a speed no greater than that which would allow the driver to stop with the “assured clear distance.”
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Here is how one Pennsylvania court defined assured clear distance:
“A driver must keep his vehicle under such control that he can always stop within the distance that he can clearly see, a distance that will vary according to the attending circumstances. The assured clear distance ahead rule applies to objects which are static or essentially static and it applies to vehicles moving in the same direction.” See Commonwealth v. Martoni, 923 A.2d 444 (2007).
What the court is saying is that you have to drive at a speed that allows you to stop before you hit whatever is in front of you. If you drive faster than that, you have violated this statute and you will be liable for damages to whomever is injured. This statute is commonly used when this type of case goes to trial as part of the instructions a judge will give a jury for when they consider liability in a personal injury case. The law is very clear, and usually the facts are pretty clear as well so proof of liability in this type of case is usually not difficult.
This rule is noteworthy not only as a demonstration of the methods we use to prove liability, but also as a reminder of what you need to do in order to drive more safely to avoid injury to yourself and to others.
Contact Attorney Matvey at 724-709-7958 to discuss your accident case.