A driver does not have to make actual physical contact with the victim's car in order to be found negligent and liable for the victim's damages. Sometimes, the negligent driver can set a chain reaction in motion so that another car strikes the victim's car during the course of a car crash. This scenario appears to have happened recently in Tennessee in the course of a fatal three-car accident that occurred in Wilson County.
A 35-year-old woman was killed in an accident occurring on Hwy. 109. She was traveling northbound on that roadway when a male driver of a 2002 Saturn from Woodbury, who was traveling southbound on Hwy. 109, lost control and hydroplaned. The man's car did not hit the victim's car; instead, the victim's car was hit by a third vehicle driven by a 42-year-old woman from Lebanon.
That third driver was traveling southbound behind the 2002 Saturn. When the Saturn went out of control, it apparently caused that vehicle to attempt a sudden stop, which caused the car to go out of control and enter the lane coming in the opposite direction. Her car T-boned the victim's vehicle and knocked it off the highway. The news coverage does not indicate whether the victim's car rolled over or struck a stationary object, but she was killed at that time.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the car crash and are presumably continuing to do so. The car that hydroplaned was likely driving too fast for conditions. A driver has the duty to keep his or her car under control and to drive at an appropriate speed. In that respect, the driver of the third car may also be partially at fault in that she was not able to stop her vehicle in time to prevent it from going out of control. The division of fault and the percentage of liability to be shared by the two drivers will be determined by the insurance adjusters for the respective companies or by later court hearings or trial.
Source: wilsonpost.com, "Wilson County sees third fatality in a week", Sabrina Garrett, March 6, 2015