Under Louisiana law, there is a presumption the driver of a car that rear-ends another car acted negligently. However, this presumption of negligence can be overcome in certain situations, such as if the driver of the vehicle that was rear-end shifted lanes soon before the accident.
While Tammy Bloxham was stopped at a red light in her car, she was hit from behind by Andy Gibbs Jr. At the time of the accident, Gibbs was driving a tractor-trailer owned by 31 Energy. Bloxham filed a lawsuit against Gibs, 31 Energy, and 31 Energy’s insurer. Bloxham argued 31 Energy had been negligent in hiring Gibbs and not inspecting its vehicle’s brakes. The defendants filed a summary judgment motion, claiming Bloxham had not reported this claim in her pending bankruptcy. Bloxham also filed a summary judgment motion, claiming Gibbs was liable under La. R.S. 32:81 A and the presumed negligence of the driver of a following vehicle who hits the rear of another vehicle.
The trial court granted Bloxham’s summary judgment motion given the presumption that a following driver who rear ends another vehicle is negligent. The court held this applied even if Bloxham had changed lanes immediately before the accident. The defendants filed an appeal.