Is the Rear Driver in a Rear-End Collision Always Liable for the Car Accident?

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You are rear-ended in Florida--is that driver behind you automatically at fault?  The short answer is "Most likely, but not always!"

In Florida, there is a rebuttable presumption that the negligence of the rear driver in a rear-end collision was the sole proximate cause of the accident.  However, this presumption may be rebutted “when the defendant produces evidence which fairly and reasonably tends to show that the rear fact is not presumed,” that the rear-end collision was not result of the rear driver’s negligence.  The Courts have recognized three specific fact patterns which may rebut this presumption:

  1. Affirmative testimony regarding a mechanical failure;
  2. Affirmative testimony of a sudden and unexpected stop or unexpected lane change by the car in front; and
  3. When a vehicle has been illegally and, therefore, unexpectedly stopped.

The purpose of the rule is to create a rebuttable presumption which shifts the burden to the rear driver in a rear-end collision to come forward with evidence which “fairly and reasonably tends to show” that the presumption of negligence in the rear driver is misplaced.  If the rear-driver presents evidence at trial that fairly and reasonably rebuts the presumption of negligence, the issue of the defendant’s negligence must then be presented to the jury for determination without the aid of the presumption. 

This is why it is important that you retain an attorney immediately after a rear-end collision.  The days after the car accident are crucial to investigate whether the at-fault driver will be raising one of the three fact patterns that could rebut their presumed negligence.

Attorney Matthew Noyes has been representing those injured in Florida car accidents, motorcycle accident, workers' compensation claims and other personal injury matters for years.  His Tampa Bay personal injury law firm has been caring for clients since 1955.  Click here to schedule a free case consultation with Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes.

 

The content of this auto injury resource page is provided for informational purposes only. If you have been involved in an auto accident, you should consult with Anthony Noyes or an Attorney in your area to discuss the details of your case.
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