two car owners looking at the damage from the rear-end car acccident

The Presumption of Fault in Rear-End Car Accidents

Today we’re talking about the presumption of fault in rear-end car crashes here in Florida. Florida has a “bursting bubble presumption of negligence” in rear-end collisions. That means that the person who rear-ends you is presumed to have been negligent unless they can present some evidence that “bursts” that presumption. The problem with this bursting bubble presumption is that if the defense presents any evidence to burst the bubble, then it is up to the jury to decide who was at fault. There are three well-established ways defendants can burst the bubble of presumption in a rear-end collision here in Florida.

  1. The first is when they present some sort of evidence that suggests there was a mechanical defect that caused the rear-end collision.
  1. The second is if they present some evidence that the vehicle they rear-ended was illegally parked in a public roadway.
  1. The third is the one we see the most frequently here in Florida. That’s when they allege there was a sudden and unexpected stop in front of them, or sudden and unexpected lane change.

If the defendants present some evidence of a sudden and unexpected lane change or stop, it will be the jury’s job to decide fault between the two parties. The way this normally unfolds is the defendants say, “Yeah, they suddenly stopped in front of me!” but that’s not enough.

The courts in Florida have said that if it occurs in an area where you would expect frequent stops or even lane changes, for example, turning into businesses or going through intersections, you can expect that a pedestrian is going to come out, a vehicle’s going to have to stop, or an emergency vehicle may be passing through, it’s not enough to say it was a sudden stop only.

Defendants can’t get away with it that easily. They’re going to have to show that it was sudden and that it was in a place you wouldn’t expect for a vehicle to stop. A good example of that might be driving down I-4 here in Polk County. If a vehicle slammed on his brakes in the middle of the interstate for no known reason, and then the defendant slammed into the back of them, then they can say that it was a sudden, unexpected stop. Then it is the jury’s job to decide whose fault the crash was.

I hope this helps you understand the bursting bubble presumption of negligence in rear-end collisions here in Florida. If you have any questions about your car crash case, give us a buzz at 1-800-ASK-DAVE. We’re here to help!

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