Hit From Behind While Stopped at Yellow Light, Who’s at Fault?


Since the invention of smartphones, there’s a term that keeps popping up when there’s a car accident: “distracted driving”. At any given red light, you can look around and see motorists passing the time by scrolling through their phones. And while it’s actually illegal to do so when operating a moving vehicle, that hasn’t stopped everyone from doing it.

But let’s be honest: Many things cause distracted driving. Smartphones, changing radio stations, arguing with a car companion, reading billboards, daydreaming, going through your mental “To-Do” list… The possibilities are vast, and consequently, the reaction time you need goes out the window due to a lack of focus on driving.

When such a car accident happens, who’s at fault?

Who’s at Fault for a Car Accident at a Yellow Light in Florida?

It’s common knowledge that yellow lights warn to proceed with caution. Drivers have only a few seconds to decide whether they will slow down and stop at the intersection, or continue driving at their current speed (or in the case of many drivers, floor the gas pedal). In this subjective interpretation of the law, the proper way to react depends on who you’re asking.

Since you never know how the person in front of you is going to react, it’s your responsibility to keep a safe distance. In fact, while Florida Statutes are vague as to the specific expected conduct of motorists at a yellow light, it is very clear about requiring drivers to keep a “reasonable and prudent” distance from the car in front. If you’re tailgating someone and they slam on the breaks at a yellow light, you will be presumed at fault if you rear-end them.

Granted, this presumption is rebuttable, but the burden will be on you to prove that the driver in front of you was at fault. Simply saying that they slammed on the breaks won’t be enough.

It’s also possible that both of you are liable. If that is the case, your percentage of responsibility will be deducted from any damages the other driver may owe for their negligence.

Who’s Paying for Damages?

A word on damages. Florida is a no-fault jurisdiction. In efforts to cut down on the amount of litigation, the law requires that every car insurance policy include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, PIP provides coverage of up to 80% of medical bills to the named insured, relatives living in the same household, people operating the insured motor vehicle, passengers in the motor vehicle, and any person struck by the insured car.

PIP also covers 60% of lost wages, payable every two weeks. In order to qualify for these benefits, you must file a claim with your insurance company within 14 days from the date of the accident.

The maximum amount of damages that can be recovered from PIP is $10,000. So if an accident resulted in additional damages and you believe the other driver is at fault, you’ll have to sue their insurance company for the difference.

As for whether your insurance rates will go up for filing a PIP claim, the answer is; it depends. Benefits are payable regardless of who was at fault. If the other driver was at fault, you should be fine. However, if you were substantially responsible for the accident, then yes, your rates could go up.

Call Clark Hartpence Law If You Were Involved in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay

When you are involved in a car accident, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. The second most important thing is to consult with a car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss the details of your collision and determine the best course of action.

If you or someone you love was involved in an accident, call Clark Hartpence Law 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.