Separate accidents, but one indirectly caused the other?

by Devin
(Kingwood, Texas)

It was a rainy day and the roads were wet. On a busy two lane road everyone was going between 30-40mph. I was in a car in the left lane. A couple cars ahead of me there were two trucks. One of the trucks tried to cut the other truck off, causing the truck in the left lane to go over the median (more of a ditch) and the other truck to stop abruptly.

Cars in front of me started slamming on their breaks. I knew that I would skid if I slammed on my breaks so I tried going down slowly on the peddle (I later learned that I should have pumped my breaks) I skidded regardless.

Heading straight towards the car in front of me I tried to avoid the collision, thinking that grinding up against a couple cars would cause less damage, so I moved towards the right lane. I ground against two cars. The second car I hit had hit another car in front of him. The car that was in front of me drove away having had no damage. My car was totaled. Everyone else drove away.

The issue I have is that I was ticketed for this. It was my fault that I hit those two cars because I failed to control my speed. But my thinking is that if those two trucks had not hit each other, I would have not had to stop so abruptly and therefore would not have skid or hit anyone.

My friends tell me that since the two trucks did not hit anyone else they are a separate case. But I feel like the truck who tried to cut the other truck off still has some amount of responsibility for what happened to me.

Beyond that, I tried to keep a distance of about 3-4 cars between me and the car in front of me, but on a busy street that isn't always possible. Other cars will not respect the amount of room you are trying to give yourself and move themselves in to help themselves get closer to their destination.

Therefore I feel like I was pinned into a situation out of my control and do not deserve a ticket for not controlling my speed. I have an appointment to talk to an attorney. What do you think about this? Do I have a case? AM I totally liable in this situation? Any perspective you can give would help.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Separate accidents, but one indirectly caused the other?":

Devin (Kingwood, Texas):

It appears you were issued a traffic citation entitled "Maximum Speed Requirement" which can be summarized in part as:

"A driver may not drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for actual and potential hazards then existing; and must control the speed of the vehicle as necessary to avoid colliding with another person or vehicle that is on or entering the highway in compliance with law and the duty of each person to use due care."
Texas Transportation Code Subchapter H - Section 545.351

You were fortunate not to be issued an additional traffic citation for "Following Too Closely" which can be summarized as:

"A driver following another driver must maintain an assured clear distance between both cars considering the speed of the cars, traffic, and the conditions of the highway so the driver following behind can safely stop without colliding with the other driver."
Texas Transportation Code Subchapter H - Section 545.062

You are in a difficult position. If you were to contest the matter by filing a lawsuit against one or more of the drivers, you would be at a legal disadvantage. Because of the above traffic laws, your position would likely not be viable, and as a result, you would probably not prevail.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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