In a Florida Rear-End Collision, Is the Driver In the Rear Always At-Fault?

by Aug 12, 2021Auto Accident, Car Accidents

In a Florida Rear-End Collision, Is the Driver In the Rear Always At-Fault?

by Aug 12, 2021Auto Accident, Car Accidents

Florida Rear End Collision
Florida Rear End Collision

Rear-end automobile wrecks are common and often serious. Nationwide, a reported 2,346 rear-end collisions involved fatalities. Roughly three out of every ten of these incidents caused serious injuries.

You may think that the driver in the rear is always at fault in a Florida Rear-End Collision. As we discuss below, that does not always hold true. In some cases, who’s at fault might not even matter. When fault does come into play, the person who rear-ends another doesn’t necessarily lose all rights to recovery.

Why Is the Car in the Rear Normally at Fault?

Rear-end collisions are often issues of following too closely and failing to keep a proper lookout. Distracted driving accounts for nearly 87 percent of these crashes. Smartphone use, playing with the radio and other vehicle gadgets, and wandering eyes cause drivers to not see that the vehicle in front of them has stopped. With just five seconds of viewing a cell phone or smartphone, a motorist travels 300 feet (roughly the distance of a football field) driving at 55 miles per hour.

Following too closely can result in serious injuries or even death. In 2019, a reported eight people died in Florida in crashes where a driver did not keep a proper distance. This type of carelessness accounted for 350 incapacitating injuries and another 3,634 non-incapacitating injuries in the Sunshine State. A Florida Rear-End Collision can produce serious consequences especially when caused by high-speed drivers.

Lights of the Vehicle in Front Not Working

Fault for rear-end accidents does not always rest solely with the driver who follows. The in-front car may have non-operating or malfunctioning brake lights or turn lights. If you rear-ended a vehicle, a Florida Rear-End Collision Attorney may invoke the other driver’s failure to properly inspect, maintain, and repair brake lights. Notice of the malfunction may come from neighbors or others who have previously alerted the car owner or driver or a report of a failed inspection.

A Sudden Brake

The vehicle you follow may have a driver who fails to pay attention or has to stop without adequate warning to you. These sudden stops may arise when another car negligently enters an intersection or lane of travel. Property owners might carelessly allow animals or objects to find their way onto the street or highway. The vehicle you follow might suddenly stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Those who carelessly enter or allow someone to enter the road may be liable to you for your injuries should you rear-end someone.

Defective Brakes

Generally, driver inattention or excessive speed cause many rear-end crashes. In some circumstances, the culprit may lie with defective brakes. Even so, the driver of such a vehicle might not escape blame for failing to inspect, maintain, and otherwise take reasonable measures to operate a safe vehicle.

In recent years, manufacturers have installed automatic emergency braking systems (AEBs). By 2022, the feature is expected to be standard on new cars. Automatic emergency braking stops a vehicle suddenly upon detection of a threatened rear-end collision.

A vehicle with such a system could still cause or become involved in rear-end crashes. Either the automatic emergency brake does not activate or it causes a sudden stop even though no risk of a collision is present. Ironically, this safety device could itself cause rear-end crashes. A Florida Rear-End Collision Attorney may explore in these cases the potential for products liability claims.

Does It Matter? Florida’s No-Fault Insurance

Florida operates on the “no-fault” system for automobile wrecks. Motorists in Florida must carry at least $10,000 of insurance to pay for their own medical expenses and lost wages. This insurance pays for medical treatment and loss wages regardless of who was at fault for causing the wreck. Your own auto insurance will payout for these economic losses even if you rear-ended a car and were determined to be at fault. The payments are typically made to your medical providers. You typically will only get directly paid from no-fault as reimbursement for your lost wages.

This doesn’t mean that fault is totally irrelevant in a Florida Rear-End Collision. To recover money in your pocket for economic losses beyond your own no-fault coverage or for pain and suffering, you must first resort to making a claim against the at-fault driver or driver’s insurance. This requires showing that the driver that rear-ended you or otherwise caused the collision acted carelessly.

What If the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Liability Insurance?

Even if you prove the other driver’s responsibility for the crash, you face the potential hurdle that the at-fault driver lacks insurance. In addition to the no-fault personal injury protection policy, Florida motorists generally need only $10,000 of liability coverage for property damage. In other words, Florida law does not require drivers to have liability coverage for bodily injuries. Taxis must have $125,000 per person and $250,000 per incident or occurrence liability coverage for bodily injuries.

As such, chances are that you will be rear-ended by someone who does not have insurance to cover most of your injuries. Purchasing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage represents “true insurance” against the lack of adequate compensation for your injuries. If a commercial vehicle rear-ends you, the prospects for going beyond your no-fault insurance likely will improve. Also, you might turn to the liability portion of a homeowner’s policy for an owner whose animal escapes the property and causes a motorist to brake suddenly or stop

Dividing the Fault

Thanks to Florida’s comparative negligence or fault rule, the fact that you rear-end a vehicle does not automatically bar your lawsuit against the other driver. The damages that you otherwise would have recovered against the tortfeasor or tortfeasor’s insurance is reduced by the level of fault. Comparative negligence comes into play if the driver whose vehicle you rear-ended had malfunctioning brake lights or suddenly stopped due to inattention.

Collisions are not automatically the fault of a driver who rear-ends the other. If you have rear-ended someone, you may still have a claim for damages beyond the lost wages and medical expenses covered by your no-fault insurance. Whether you were leading or following when the wreck happened, contact a Florida Rear-End Collision Attorney to protect your rights and get compensation for your personal injuries.

The Bodden & Bennett Law Group is a firm that you can trust and we are experienced in handling rear-end collisions. Contact us today for a free case review.

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