Being involved in a car accident is stressful. It’s even more aggravating if you’re sure that it wasn’t your fault. Since you’re the one who rear-ended the car in front of you, are you automatically presumed to have caused the accident?
Is this always the assumption? Is there anything you can do to prove in court that you weren’t negligent at the time of the collision?
Rear Ended Car Accident Settlement
Florida law requires that all drivers keep a safe distance between them and the car in front of them. Although there isn’t a specific number of feet to keep between cars, Florida Statute 316.0895 requires that a vehicle not follow another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent.”
This is established precisely to give you enough time to react if the car in front of you suddenly stops. Therefore, if you do rear end the car in front of you, there’s a rebuttable presumption that you’re at fault.
This presumption can be overcome by presenting evidence from which a jury could conclude that the front driver was negligent. This can be done by presenting witness testimony, surveillance video, or by any other means that would prove that the front driver was at fault.
If you rear-ended a car in front of you, the burden of proof is on you. You are the one who has to conduct discovery to figure out a way to show that the front driver was at fault. In the alternative, you could present evidence that you were both at fault and therefore, any amount of damages that the other driver is suing for should be diminished by their own degree of negligence. This is because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction.
For example, let’s say that the front driver suffered $15,000 in medical bills and property damage. Let’s also say that you can present evidence that they were 50% at fault for the accident. Even if the front driver sues you for $15,000, once it’s proven that they were responsible for half of the damages, you would only be exposed to $7,500 in liability.
The example above is significant because Florida is a no-fault jurisdiction that requires all insurance companies to provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to all drivers. This means that, regardless of who was at fault, the policy will cover 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages, up to a maximum of $10,000. So the driver in the car in front of you can file a claim for PIP coverage and have most of their expenses paid for, substantially reducing your own liability. Then again, if you’re positive that you weren’t at fault, you can litigate the claim and show the evidence backing up your position.
What If There Was a Rear-End Collision, but No Damage?
Even if there was no visible damage to your car, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney after a rear-end collision. This is because there are time limitations to filing claims and you may discover later that you have a medical issue arising out of the accident. To file a PIP claim with your own insurance company, you have 14 days from the date of the accident. Waiting longer means that you’ll have to pay for your expenses out of pocket.
The longer you wait, the higher the likelihood that the opposing party can blame any injuries on an event after the accident occurred (e.g. work duties, running errands, working out, etc.)
Call Us If You Were Involved in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
When you get into a car accident, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. The second most important thing is to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible in order to discuss the details of your accident and determine the best course of action.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.