Who is at fault in a rear-end motor vehicle accident?
As personal injury attorneys, we are constantly handling motor vehicle accident cases where our client has been injured when his or her vehicle comes to a stop and is then rear-ended by the driver in back. While most rear-end motor vehicle accidents are due to the fault of the rear vehicle, these cases are not always as “slam dunk” as one might think. In a rear-end motor vehicle accident, under Florida law, there is a presumption that the driver of the rear vehicle was negligent unless that driver is able to provide a substantial and reasonable explanation as to why he was not negligent, in which case the presumption disappears. That means, if there is sufficient evidence that the lead driver was negligent or even partly negligent, liability will be apportioned by the jury between the two drivers. A couple examples of how the lead driver can share or be entirely at fault in a rear-end motor vehicle accident are stopping or slowing suddenly for no obvious reason or justification and changing lanes without yielding to an oncoming vehicle in that lane. While most rear-end motor vehicle accidents are clearly due to the negligence of the rear driver and therefore can’t be anticipated or avoided by the driver of the lead vehicle, driving defensively, keeping safe distance from the vehicle in front of your vehicle, and to your surroundings will help you to avoid getting rear-ended