The Law Of Rear End Accidents – Presumptions And What They Mean
Rear end accidents are very common in Florida-perhaps the most common kind of car accidents. But who is at fault in a rear end accident, and what do you do if someone who rear ends you says that the accident is your fault?
Competing Legal Theories
Florida law has two competing interests when it comes to rear end accidents.
On the one hand, Florida has what is known as a rebuttable presumption of negligence on behalf of the person who rear ends your car. That means that from day 1, automatically, it is assumed that the person who rear ended you is at fault for the accident.
On the other hand, Florida has a system of comparative fault. That means that in court, the Defendant can point the finger at the victim (in any kind of injury case, not just car accident cases), and ultimately, a jury can apportion some degree of liability or fault to the victim for fully or partially contributing to his or her injuries or the accident itself.
Beating the Presumption
How do these two seemingly opposite legal theories play off of each other? The key is in the word “rebuttable.” This means that although it is initially assumed that the person who rear ended you is at fault, no matter what, the person who rear ended you can overcome that presumption by showing evidence that in fact you, as the victim and the person who was rear-ended, did something to cause the accident.
How is the presumption overcome—in other words, how can you, as the victim, be blamed for a rear end accident?
The Defendant can try to show that you came to an arbitrary and quick stop of your vehicle, somewhere that it would not be expected. Although a drastic situation, imagine someone who was to apply brakes on suddenly, in the middle of a highway with no traffic.
A driver who rear ends someone can also show that the person he or she rear ended was illegally stopped, such as someone who stops a vehicle in the middle of a roadway of any kind.
Potentially, drivers who have faulty brakes or taillights, which don’t alert people behind them that they are slowing down, could have some liability or their own accident or injuries.
The other way would be something out of the Defendant’s control, like failed brakes or some mechanical breakdown.
If the Defendant can’t prove any of these, it will be assumed that he or she was negligent.
Passengers get the Presumption Also
The passenger in your car also gets the benefit of the presumption—just like you don’t have to initially prove the person who hit you was negligent in a rear-end accident, neither do any passengers in your car have to prove that fact, if they are injured and sue the negligent driver.
Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today for help recovering damages if you are injured in a car accident.