In A Rear-End Crash In Florida, Is The Rear-End Driver Always Presumed At Fault?
Rear-end crashes are incredibly common. They are estimated to account for nearly 30% of all traffic accidents resulting in serious injury and 7% of traffic-related fatalities….other estimates have them occurring at a rate of anywhere between 1.7 million and 2.5 million or more every single year. Even a “minor” rear-end crash can result in vehicular damage and bodily injury, while the more severe crashes may leave victims with permanent pain or disabilities.
If you were injured in a rear-end crash in Florida – whether or not you were in the front car or back car – you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you suffered if you were not at fault. However, understanding “fault” can be complicated in Florida, and particularly for these types of accidents. Here are a few things that you need to know about the legal nuances of rear-end collisions!
Yes, The Rear-End Driver Is Always Presumed To Be At Fault…
Florida courts have long recognized a presumption of negligence in the case of a rear-end crash in Florida. This is because all drivers have a legal duty of care to keep proper following distance and lookout for changes to road conditions. If you rear-end someone, it appears that you were probably following too closely behind the vehicle you rear-ended and were not adequately paying attention to their signals. Therefore, you are legally at fault for the crash.
Here are several common examples where the rear-end driver is at fault for a rear-end accident:
- The rear-end driver hits a car that slows down due to traffic congestion
- The rear-end driver fails to notice the car’s turn signal or the car in front of that car’s turn signal, and hits either car as they slow down
- The rear-end driver sped up to make it through a changing yellow light and falsely assumed that the front driver would do the same
But Proving Liability Can Overturn That Presumption.
However, this is just a presumption, and it does not account for every single rear-end crash. If the other person swerved into your lane and braked suddenly, for example, or if their tail lights were out at the time of the crash, even if you were alert and following the correct distance, your car still may have hit theirs. All the presumption means is that you have the burden of proof of your innocence (or relative innocence) if you were the rear-end driver.
Florida’s No-Fault Laws And Comparative Negligence Standard May Impact How You Recover Compensation.
In a recent Florida court case that involved a rear-end accident – Crime v. Looney – the Florida First District Court of Appeal clarified that presumption of fault in rear-end crashes doesn’t override Florida’s comparative negligence standard. This means that a jury or judge must determine whether multiple parties were at fault for the crash and then assign each party a percentage of fault based on the evidence available.
For example, if you were rear-ended and injured, and the driver who rear-ended you was speeding excessively, but one of your tail lights was out, they may be found to be 85% at fault and you 15%. What this means is that if you are seeking $100,000 in compensation for your medical bills and lost wages from their insurance company, you may only be able to recover up to $85,000.
However, any injured victims of a rear-end crash in Florida – whether or not they contributed to the crash in any way – must seek monetary compensation through their own insurance’s PIP (personal injury protection) coverage first. Florida is a “no-fault” state. This doesn’t mean that no one is at fault for the rear-end crash (someone clearly is, or multiple parties may be) but it does mean that your own insurance will have to kick in first to cover a percentage of the costs before you can take legal action.
Unfortunately, PIP only covers $2,500 in non-emergency medical costs, 80% in emergency medical costs, and 60% of lost wages. If you were the one who rear-ended the other driver, and you were following too closely or not paying attention, and there is no reason as to why they were at fault, then it is likely that PIP benefits are your only recourse for getting paid for your injuries.
Call Today To Learn More About Your Options!
The Florida Law Group is highly experienced at winning compensation for injuries sustained in a rear-end crash in Florida. If you believe you may have a case, contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation! You won’t have to pay us anything upfront or out of your own pocket; if and when we recover damages, we are paid as a percentage of the award amount you receive. If we don’t win, you don’t owe our legal fees!
Since 1984, we have recovered over $1 billion for our clients. We understand that insurance companies – even when you are their customer – are often reluctant to pay out the full amount that you deserve. Making a claim for PIP benefits can be complex and frustrating, and making a claim with the other party’s insurance company can be even more so. Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience on our side. We know what it takes to make the insurance companies pay attention to you; we will take care of all of the paperwork and negotiations so you can focus on healing.
If a settlement can’t be reached that reflects the full value of your injury costs, we aren’t afraid to take your case to trial. We are comfortable in court and have the skills, resources, and extensive knowledge of Florida law necessary to override the presumption of rear-end fault or confirm it, depending on your specific situation. Our firm has been recognized by many elite legal organizations such as the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, the Trial Lawyer Board of Regents, the National Trial Lawyers Top 100, the Best Lawyers in America, Florida Super Lawyers, and others, and our lead attorney, Chris Limberoupoulous, is a board-certified civil trial specialist. You can trust our excellent reputation to give you an advantage!