SW Legal Educational Publishing

Lead Driver Has No Duty To Warn Following Drivers of Hazards
Description Driver who swerved in time to avoid stalled vehicle in road, without warning following cars of hazard, did not violate a duty to warn following motorists of obstruction in road, and is not the proximate cause of the accident when trailing car hit stalled vehicle.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence, Duty to Warn
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A van broke down on a multi-lane highway, where, due to construction, there was no shoulder or median for the van to move on to. Hodge was following another (phantom) car, which suddenly swerved to miss the van. Hodge did not see the van until it was too late to swerve and he crashed into it. He sued, contending that the van's insurer is responsible for the liability of the car Hodge was following, that swerved to miss the van, because that driver did not warn Hodge of the danger of the van. District court held that the phantom driver's actions were not causal factors as a matter of law. Hodge appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The lead vehicle did not block Hodge's vision more than normal and the phantom motorist did not drive in a way to interfere with Hodge and may not even have known Hodge was behind him or her. That driver was not negligent, had no duty to warn Hodge of the danger, and was not the proximate cause of the accident. Hence, "under normal circumstances, a lead car is under no general duty to evade a hazard in sufficient time to allow a following car to avoid the hazard as well."
Citation Hodge v. Lanzar Sound, Inc., --P.2d-- (1998 WL 748316, Ct. App., Kan.)
966 P.2d 92 (Ct. App., Kan., 1998)

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