You have likely heard that the driver who hits the back of another car is always at fault for a rear-end accident. People may have told you that this is an ironclad rule. While this is the likely result in a rear-end car accident, it is not always the case. Specifically, Florida’s new personal injury laws give the rear car driver an opening to argue that the front car driver may be to blame for the accident, either partially or completely. You always need an Orlando car accident lawyer after a rear-end car accident. Contact us at JustCallMoe to get the legal representation that you need.
The Rear Car Driver Is Often to Blame, But Not Always
The rear-car driver’s liability for the accident is a rebuttable presumption, as opposed to being the rule in every single case. Presumably, the rear car driver could bring their own evidence that could show that the front car driver was to blame. However, if they do not have the evidence necessary to overcome this presumption, the usual legal principle would apply. It is true that the rear car driver will most often be to blame, but it is not always true.
When Is the Front Car Driver Liable for a Rear-End Crash?
There may be reasons why the front car driver may be at fault. The most common argument that the trailing drivers make is that the front car suddenly stopped in front of them. Thus, there was not enough time for the rear car driver to stop and avoid hitting the front car. In other cases, the rear car driver may try to “burst the bubble” of liability by claiming that the front car driver suddenly cut them off in traffic by switching into their lane without warning.
Just like the rear car driver may often be distracted, the front car driver could also not be paying full attention to the road. They may stop short at a stop sign or red light that they did not see until the last second. They may not have seen a car that was stopped in front of them or another hazard on the road.
How You Can Prove that the Front Car Driver Was at Fault
To meet your own burden of proof, you would need to have evidence that backs up your contentions. Your lawyer could use the following to prove your case:
- Testimony from witnesses who saw the accident and the events immediately surrounding it
- Pictures of the scene of the accident (hopefully, your injuries did not keep you from capturing images before the wreckage was cleared)
- The police report from the accident (although you cannot use this as evidence in court, as it is considered hearsay)
- Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert, who will use principles of physics and math to reach an opinion about who was to blame
- Footage from a dashcam or a traffic camera
Florida’s New Laws Change the Picture for Financial Compensation
In the past, Florida used a pure comparative negligence system that allowed a driver to recover some money, so long as they were not 100% to blame for the accident. Theoretically, that law made it easier for the rear-car driver to receive some compensation if the driver slammed the brakes in front of them.
If the front car driver slammed the brakes suddenly, leaving you nowhere else to go, they may be fully at fault. In this case, there was nothing whatsoever that you could have done, and you were the victim of someone else’s negligence.
Now, Florida has changed its law to modify comparative negligence. A driver would have to prove that they were less than 50% to blame for the accident in order to get anything at all. The new law makes it even more crucial to have an attorney who will argue your case and try to demonstrate that the front-car driver was responsible for the accident. If you were driving the front car, you may still be able to get compensation, even if you were not completely blameless in the crash, so long as you do not bear more than half of the blame.
Do Not Think that Compensation Is Fully Out of Reach
Insurance companies will often heed the presumption because they may not want to dig into the truth. The rear car driver’s insurance company may not even want to fight for them when it comes to determining fault.
However, you should never assume that the legal result in every car accident case is preordained. If you do, you may be leaving the possibility of financial compensation on the table. You should always at least speak to a lawyer to see if there is any chance of getting a settlement check.
If you were driving the rear car, you may be up against the fact that many lawyers do not want to take your case because they believe that it would be an uphill battle to get you financial compensation. However, the new laws may give the rear car driver more of an opening to possibly get a settlement check when the front car driver was to blame for the accident.
Your only way to ensure that the correct result in a case is reached may be to have a jury decide the case. The insurance company does not get the final say over liability in your case. However, you would need very strong evidence to be successful in court.
Contact an Orlando Car Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident, you may be eligible for a settlement or jury award to pay for your damages. Rely on JustCallMoe for determined and tough legal representation that can knock the insurance company back on their heels before they do the same to you. Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer by messaging us online or calling us today at (866) 225-5663. You pay us nothing unless you are able to financially recover for your injuries.