Legal Memorandum: Law Pertaining to Driving Caution in MD

Issue: What is the law in Maryland pertaining to the level of care which a driver who is following another vehicle must exercise?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Level of care for a driver; Presumption of negligence; Rear-end collision
Jurisdiction: Maryland
Cited Cases: 206 Md. 500; 129 Md. App. 309; 123 Md. App. 51; 742 A.2d 1; 716 A.2d 1067; 147 Md. App. 617; 810 A.2d 494; 239 A.2d 569; 249 Md. 298
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2008

Maryland law is well settled that when two vehicles are traveling one in front of the other, the driver of the car in back must exercise due care to avoid hitting the car in front.  Teufel v. O’Dell, 123 Md. App. 51, 55-56, 716 A.2d 1067, 1069 (1998) (quoting Brehm v. Lorenz, 206 Md. 500, 505, 112 A.2d 475, 478 (1955)).  Although the exact precautions the rear driver must take to avoid hitting the front car when the car in front stops or is stopped “‘cannot be formulated in any precise rule,'” and the question whether the rear driver used ordinary care is usually for the jury, the issue is for the court “‘when the case is one where reasonable minds would not differ.'”  Id. at 56, 716 A.2d at 1069 (quoting Brehm, 206 Md. at 505-06, 112 A.2d at 478).  See Altenburg v. Sears, 249 Md. 298, 302, 239 A.2d 569, 572 (1968) (holding that the trial court erred in denying the plaintiff’s motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict or new trial because when the conclusion from the evidence “is capable of only one conclusion, the motion should be granted”).  See also Andrade v. Housein, 147 Md. App. 617, 810 A.2d 494 (2002) (where the known facts gave rise to a presumption of negligence in the rear-end collision, and the presumption was […]

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