January 11, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Many assume that it is an easy proposition to assign fault after a rear-end crash; however, that is not always the case. In the past, Florida law generally presumed that the rear driver was liable for the causing the crash. A new Florida Supreme Court case opens the door for drivers to argue that the negligence of the lead driver was the actual cause or a contributing factor in a Florida car accident
The case at issue involved a 2005 three-car pileup in South Florida. The plaintiff in the case was driving the last car involved in the pile-up. She argued that the middle driver's negligence caused the accident. The trial court found that the plaintiff was unable to overcome the presumption of negligence tied to her as the rear driver in the accident. The court entered a directed verdict after the admission of evidence and the case did not go to the jury.
Talking on a cellphone - distracted driving by the lead driver
The facts presented in the case where that the front driver was travelling at 45 mph while talking on her cellphone. As she cleared a hill, she plowed into a vehicle stopped on a downhill slope of an overpass. The plaintiff in the case presented evidence that she was several car lengths behind the front car and had slowed to 35 mph as she encountered the hill. Even taking these safety steps, the rear driver was unable to avoid the front driver's car.
The plaintiff argued that the negligence in the initial crash left her no way to avoid involvement.
The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiff in overruling the trial court stating, "Evidence was sufficient for a jury to conclude that the rear driver's presumed negligence was not the sole proximate cause of the collision." The holding means that a jury will be able to look at the facts and determine which actions caused the collision.
Changes in liability law
Over the past 50 years, the presumption of negligence for rear drivers in these types of crashes has been almost impossible to overcome. That was because the second driver was assumed to be in a better position to avoid a crash.
The narrow holding in the case does not change state law, but it might allow more leeway to argue causation
in rear-end accidents. Florida follows a comparative negligence approach that allows a jury to award judgments based on the degree that each party is at fault. In many cases, the driver of the first car may be partially at fault and may now be held accountable.
If you have suffered an injury following a rear-end car accident, consult a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss the individual circumstances of your accident. As in the above case, sometimes the actions of the first car may have caused the accident. An attorney can assist in your case by making sure your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation.
Article provided by Law Offices of Corey Leifer, P.A.
Visit us at www.leiferlaw.com/---
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