As their name implies, rear-end collisions involve one or more cars colliding with the back of cars in front of them. The results can be disastrous, causing serious injuries with lasting pain and discomfort. Tragically, recent rear-end accidents in Florida resulted in four deaths, demonstrating how devastating the accidents can be, particularly at high speeds. However, according to medical experts, even low-speed rear-end accidents can cause injuries, ranging from whiplash to spinal damage.
Finding fault and rear-end collisions
In many rear-end accidents, logic dictates that the second driver is 100 percent at fault for colliding with the driver in front who, in most instances, is a helpless victim that never knew what happened. Traditionally, Florida law reflected this, presuming negligence on the part of the second driver. Since this driver should have ostensibly driven at a reasonable speed and maintained enough distance to stop, the law automatically assigned liability to that second driver. For more than 50 years, this was the state of the law and the second driver in rear-end collisions had little choice but to pay up.
Within the last two years, however, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that there are instances in which the second driver will not be found to be completely at fault. For example, if the actions of the driver in front contributed to the second driver’s inability to avoid the collision, damages for the first driver may be significantly reduced. The reasoning is that in certain accidents, the front driver is at least partially to blame for the collision. In these cases, the court may divide liability between the drivers based upon varying degrees of culpability.
New voices in rear-end cases
The primary change in the law is that the second driver is no longer prevented from giving his or her side of the story in regard to the circumstances of collisions. With that being said, in most cases the entire or the majority of blame for the collision will still be placed on the second driver. The playing field, however, has been leveled to the extent that drivers are only responsible for damages that their particular negligence was responsible for causing.
Rear-end collisions can occur in a split second, leaving little or no opportunity to react or avoid them. Seasoned legal professionals are often the most qualified individuals to determine fault and their advice and guidance is critical to the success of any case involving a rear-end collision.