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The Rear-End Collision Presumption Under Florida Personal Injury Law

Typically, when a Florida car accident victim files a case against another driver, they must establish that the defendant’s conduct was negligent and that their negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. However, under certain circumstances, the law imposes what is called a presumption of negligence. A “presumption” allows for a judge or jury to conclude a fact based on the surrounding circumstances unless it can be shown by greater evidence that the presumption should not apply.

One example of a legal presumption in Florida personal injury law is the rear-end collision presumption. In Florida rear-end collisions, without any additional showing, the rear driver is presumed to have been negligent. However, that does not necessarily mean that the rear driver’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident. A recent case illustrates how Florida courts apply the rear-end collision presumption.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant as she was driving on a Florida highway. The plaintiff and defendant offered differing versions of the events leading up to the accident; however, the defendant admitted that he could have avoided the accident had he not been following so closely.

The trial court determined that the defendant was legally negligent and that the plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability. The jury was then tasked with determining the appropriate amount of damages. The defendant appealed, arguing that his testimony was sufficient to raise an issue regarding whether the plaintiff’s comparative negligence was a contributing cause of the accident.

On appeal, the court noted that under the defendant’s version of events, the plaintiff suddenly slammed on her brakes and began to turn into the center median. While this was contradicted by the plaintiff’s account, the court explained that the defendant’s testimony raised the issue of whether the plaintiff shared responsibility for the accident. However, the court also acknowledged that the defendant admitted he was following too closely and could have avoided the accident.

The court ultimately held that the defendant was properly presumed to have been negligent; however, the jury should have also been able to consider whether the plaintiff’s own negligence was a contributing cause to the accident. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to instruct the jury that the defendant was presumed to have been negligent, but reversed the court’s decision that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident.

Have You Beeb Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you care about has recently been in a Florida rear-end accident, contact the dedicated team of South Florida injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent accident victims across the state in all types of injury claims, including Florida rear-end car accidents. We provide all prospective clients with a free consultation to discuss their case and explain how we can help. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

What Is an Attractive Nuisance under Florida Personal Injury Law?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 21, 2019.

The Concept of Personal Jurisdiction in Florida Personal Injury Cases, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 7, 2019.

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