Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion addressing the presumption of negligence in a Florida rear-end accident. At issue was whether a defendant appropriately rebutted the presumption of negligence when he rear-ended the plaintiff’s car. The accident occurred when a driver in front of the plaintiff suddenly braked their vehicle at a green light. The plaintiff and defendant both applied their brakes. The plaintiff avoided colliding with the car in front of her, but the defendant did not stop in time and subsequently rear-ended the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant based on the damages she suffered as a result of the rear-ending. A jury ruled in the defendant’s favor finding that he was not negligent. The plaintiff appealed the court’s denial of her motion for a directed verdict.
Parties in a civil personal injury lawsuit can make a motion for a directed verdict after the close of evidence before a jury renders their ruling. This occurs when one party believes that the opposing party did not prove their case as a matter of law. Under Florida law, rear-end accidents create a rebuttable presumption that the at-fault driver was negligent.
To rebut the presumption of negligence, the rear-end driver must present evidence or explanation that refutes a fact in the case. Typically, in Florida rear-end accident cases, a defendant can rebut a presumption under four circumstances. These situations include, if the rear-end driver’s car had a mechanical failure; if the in-front driver suddenly stopped; if the in-front driver suddenly changed lanes; and if the in-front driver illegally or improperly stopped. However, presumptions based on sudden stops require additional factors because drivers have a duty to remain alert. If the defendant does not appropriately rebut the presumption, a plaintiff is entitled to a directed verdict in their favor.
In this case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant did not provide evidence to rebut the presumption of negligence required in rear-end collisions. The defendant presented evidence that the plaintiff suddenly stopped but did not provide any additional facts. The court held that the plaintiff stopped at a busy intersection; however, that behavior in and of itself is not enough to rebut the presumption. Ultimately, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded for the entry of a directed verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.
Have You Been Involved in a Florida Rear-End Accident?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in a Florida rear-end collision, you should contact the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. Many people assume that establishing liability and recovering damages in a rear-end collision is a given; however, that is not always the case. The attorneys at our firm can help you navigate the various challenges that these cases may pose. Our skilled litigators have an excellent track record of successful outcomes for Florida car accident victims. We have assisted our clients in recovering substantial sums of damages for the injuries they suffered. Compensation often includes payments for medical bills, ongoing medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. Contact our office today at 877-499-4878 for a free initial consultation with a Florida accident attorney.