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I have seen many dash cam videos that show cars impacting then just rolling on without driver input until they roll into something solid.

It seems that after impact some drivers just take their hands and feet off the controls.

If a car collided with another and is not at fault in that collision, but after impact does not control their car, specifically apply the brakes firmly to stop quickly and/or steer away from assets (like other cars, buildings, traffic and electricity poles, etc), and the car is mechanically still able to steer and/or brake, and the driver is physically and mentally able to control the car but just “lets nature take its course” by opting not to control the car, can they be held liable for any damage caused by subsequent impacts that could easily and simply have been avoided had they controlled the car properly?

Note: I am not suggesting stunt driving skills here. I have seen many cases where the not at fault vehicle keeps rolling some 100ft/30m after impact due to momentum it retained through the collision without braking or steering at all and rolls into a building or other cars causing a lot more damage than the initial collision. There was plenty of time and almost no skill required to gently apply brakes to avoid further damage.

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If the not-fault vehicle operator is even the slightest bit impaired by the collision, it's going to be difficult to impart liability to the travel of the vehicle after the crash.

An impact or collision with enough force to cause a vehicle to travel an additional 30 meters is substantial.

Even with only a minor impact, the psychological affect on the driver can be sufficient to cause a momentary shock.

This answer is derived from personal experience of being involved in a not-at-fault collision in which I was not injured but was stunned enough to continue to travel some distance through the intersection after impact without reacting.

I suspect if such a situation were brought to court, it would be a matter of which lawyer could present the better facts.

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  • Note: The “30m” was not “additional” or imparted by the impact. It was just some of the motion the car already had before the impact that it retained after the impact.
    – Bohemian
    Dec 7 '20 at 14:52
  • @Bohemian also its worth keeping in mind that any impact may render brakes and steering unusable, plus if there are things like airbags going off then that complicates matters significantly.
    – Moo
    Dec 7 '20 at 21:35
  • @Moo covered in question: the car is mechanically still able to steer and/or brake and the driver is physically and mentally able to control the car
    – Bohemian
    Dec 7 '20 at 22:02
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"Fault" is based on negligence, and there are different legal theories of negligence according to jurisdiction (esp. regarding contributory negligence). You are generally required to look both ways before entering an intersection after a stop (failure to do so can result in a finding of negligence), and you are required to control your vehicle at all times (going limp is an example of negligence). If A negligently bashes B and B goes limp thereby causing greater damage, the consequences of A's actions may be attenuated to the extent of B's negligence in failing to control the vehicle. See this page for a synopsis of contributory (comparative) negligence. Then it becomes a question of fact: how much would the damage been reduced if B had controlled the vehicle? It's possible that B could have completely prevented the damage, or could not have possibly reduced the damage, or anything in between.

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