I Rear-Ended Someone Who Stopped Suddenly

I Rear-Ended Someone Who Stopped Suddenly

On a typical commute, it’s easy to become distracted with thoughts about the day, items on your to-do list, billboards, or something you heard on the radio. The possibilities are endless. When this happens, you may rear-end the car in front of you.

But what if you were paying attention, yet the driver in front of you suddenly stopped without warning? Who’s at fault? Understanding the intricacies of such an incident can help you navigate the aftermath effectively.

What Happens If You Rear-End Someone Who Stopped Suddenly

Florida Statutes Section 316.0895 establishes that all drivers of motor vehicles must leave a reasonable distance between their vehicle and the car in front of them. What’s considered as “reasonable” is not explicitly defined in the law. However, it should be a distance that gives you enough time to react should you decrease your speed and eventually stop.

Since you must leave enough space to provide appropriate reaction time, if you rear-end someone, there is a rebuttable presumption that you were at fault for the accident.

How To Prove You Were Not at Fault

1. Gathering Evidence

You can present evidence that the accident wasn’t your fault. This evidence can include:

  • Witness Testimony: Collect statements from anyone who saw the accident and can verify that the other driver stopped suddenly without warning.
  • Expert Testimony: Accident reconstruction experts can provide insights into the accident dynamics.
  • Surveillance Video: If the accident occurred near a business or intersection with cameras, obtaining footage can be crucial.
  • Faulty Brake Lights: Evidence that the vehicle in front of you had faulty brake lights, contributing to the accident.
  • Police Report: The report might include details on whether the other driver committed a traffic violation that caused the accident.

2. Using the Police Report

The police report can be a valuable piece of evidence. However, to use it effectively in court, you may need the policeman to testify, as the report itself could be excluded as hearsay. Ensure the report accurately reflects the circumstances of the accident and highlights any actions by the other driver that contributed to the collision.

Understanding Comparative Negligence in Florida

1. Shared Fault

In Florida, the concept of comparative negligence means that if both drivers are found to be at fault, the damages will be apportioned according to each party’s level of negligence.

For example, if you were distracted while driving but the car in front of you suddenly stopped without warning, both parties could be considered partially at fault. In such cases, the court will determine the percentage of fault attributable to each driver. If the other driver is found to be 50% at fault and has $40,000 in damages, they could only recover $20,000.

2. Reducing Liability

By gathering and presenting evidence that the other driver contributed to the accident, you can reduce your liability and the damages you may have to pay. This process requires meticulous documentation and often the assistance of legal professionals to build a strong case.

Addressing Minor Damages of the Accident

1. Assessing the Damage

Even if the accident appears to be minor, it’s important not to make that determination on your own. Sometimes, injury symptoms appear later on, and there are time limitations you must keep in mind to file your claim.

2. Filing Timely Claims

For example, while the statute of limitations to file a negligence claim is four years, Florida law also makes it clear that if you’re filing a claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), you have to do so within 14 days from the accident date. Filing promptly helps ensure you don’t miss out on potential compensation for injuries that may manifest later.

3. Avoiding Blame Shifting

The longer you wait to file a claim, the higher the probability that the other person’s attorney will try to blame any of your damages on something else — a subsequent accident, pre-existing health issues, or subsequent injuries. Prompt action helps preserve the integrity of your claim and avoids unnecessary complications.

When and How To Hire a Lawyer

1. Assessing the Need for Legal Help

Hiring a lawyer is often essential in rear-end collision cases, mainly when disputes about fault, significant damages, or injuries occur. Consider legal assistance if:

  • Serious Injuries: Legal expertise is crucial to ensure fair compensation if you or any passengers have sustained significant injuries.
  • Fault Is Disputed: If the other driver or insurance company disputes fault, an attorney can help gather and present evidence to support your case.
  • Insurance Issues Arise: If the insurance company denies your claim or offers a low settlement, a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf.

2. How a Lawyer Can Help

A lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in several ways:

  • Evidence Collection: Lawyers can help gather and preserve crucial evidence, such as witness statements, expert testimony, and surveillance footage.
  • Legal Representation: They can represent you in negotiations with insurance companies and, if necessary, in court, ensuring your rights are protected.
  • Damage Assessment: Lawyers can help accurately assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, to ensure you receive fair compensation.
  • Navigating Legal Processes: An attorney can guide you through the complexities of legal procedures and timelines, ensuring you meet all necessary deadlines.

3. Finding the Right Lawyer

When looking for a lawyer, consider the following:

  • Experience: Choose a lawyer with experience handling car accident cases and a track record of successful outcomes.
  • Reputation: Look for attorneys with positive reviews and testimonials from past clients.
  • Communication: Ensure the lawyer is communicative and keeps you informed about the progress of your case.

Rear-ending someone who stopped suddenly can be complex, especially when determining fault and liability. Understanding Florida’s laws, gathering crucial evidence, and taking timely action can significantly impact the outcome of your case. If you are in such a situation, consider consulting with a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected and help you navigate the legal complexities involved. Remember, taking the proper steps promptly can make all the difference in securing fair compensation and resolving the matter effectively.

Contact Clark Hartpence Law Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a car accident, meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Contact Clark Hartpence Law today for a free consultation on your case. We are an experienced and knowledgeable legal team ready to support you during a difficult time.

If you or someone you love was involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.