Court Addresses the Presumption of Liability in Florida Rear-End Accidents

Many people assume that when one driver rear-ends another, there is no dispute as to who is at fault for the accident. In many lawsuits arising out of rear-end collisions, however, the defendant driver will argue that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to the accident in some way, and therefore liability is not clear based upon the sheer fact that the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff. The evidence needed to overcome the presumption of a defendant’s liability in a case arising out of a rear-end crash was recently discussed by a Florida court. If you were hurt in a rear-end accident, you might be owed damages from the driver that hit you, and it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was driving an SUV on a highway in Florida when he was struck from the rear by a commercial truck that was driven by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant company. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries due to the accident, including injuries to his right arm that required surgical repair. As such, he filed a lawsuit alleging negligence claims against the defendants. Following the close of discovery, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his claims. The defendants opposed the motion, alleging that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to bringing about the accident, and therefore, the issue of liability was disputed.

The Presumption of Liability in Florida Rear-End Accidents

In Florida, there is a presumption that the rear driver in a rear-end collision is negligent. The presumption is rebuttable, however. Specifically, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that as tort recovery in Florida is guided by the principles of comparative negligence, the presumption that a driver’s negligence was the sole cause of a rear-end collision can be rebutted, and its strength weakened if the defendant produces evidence that is sufficient to show that the front-driver acted negligently in the operation of his or her vehicle.

In such cases in which the presumption is rebutted by evidence that is contrary to the presumption, any disputed issues of fact regarding negligence or causation should be presented to a jury to allow it to issue a finding on a fault without the aid of the presumption. In the subject case, the defendant presented evidence that the plaintiff moved into his lane abruptly and immediately slowed down, not allowing the defendant time to reduce his speed and avoid a collision. Thus, the court found there was sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of the defendant’s negligence and to submit the case to a jury.

Consult a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney

While in many rear-end collisions, liability is clear, in other instances the driver responsible for the accident may argue that the injured party is at fault. If you sustained injuries in a rear-end crash or any other accident, you may be owed damages and should consult an attorney. The seasoned Florida personal injury attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are adept at helping people hurt by the negligence of others seek redress for their losses, and we can aid you in seeking the best outcome available under the facts of your case. We can be reached through our online form or at 800-283-7442 to schedule a meeting.

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