Rear-End Accidents in Florida Carry a Presumption of Negligence That Can Be Rebutted

OCTOBER 16, 2016:
As a car accident lawyer, the most common type of vehicle impact is a rear-end collision.  In those situations, liability is typically admitted by the insurance company or attorney for the driver.  Once liability is no longer at issue, the only matter to be resolved by both parties is that of damages.  As many personal injury attorneys know, liability in rear-end accidents is admitted due to the rebuttable presumption of negligence that exists in Florida.

The 4th District Court of Appeal for Florida (“4th DCA”) recently heard oral arguments following a dismissal of a car accident case in Circuit Court.  In “Marcos Padilla v. June B. Schwartz,” the underlying accident occurred on the Florida Turnpike when the Plaintiff rear-ended the third party vehicle.  Yet, the Plaintiff commenced the action claiming that “there was no car in front of him until [the third party vehicle] suddenly invaded his lane.”  The Defendant subsequently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment that largely relied on the “rebuttable presumption of negligence that attaches to the rear driver in a rear-end motor vehicle collision case.”

Despite having evidence and testimony establishing that the Plaintiff failed to see the Defendant prior to him invading his lane and ultimately cutting in front of him, the trial court disregarded this evidence and granted Defendant’s request for dismissal.  According to the 4th DCA, this presumption of negligence “can be rebutted by evidence from which a jury could conclude that the front driver was negligent and comparatively at fault in the accident.”

Ultimately, the Plaintiff’s testimony regarding his observations immediately before the accident are relevant and constituted evidence pertaining to the driving of the Defendant.  While a jury may not necessarily believe the Plaintiff’s story, the testimony does in fact raise a question of fact that would extinguish any argument in favor of summary judgment.  Consequently, the appellate court reversed the ruling of the trial court and remanded back for further proceedings.

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Brandon Stein

Chief Executive Officer

Brandon Stein, the owner and founder of SteinLaw, is a Florida-based trial attorney who focuses on personal injury cases such as wrongful death, car accident, slip and fall, and a variety of other civil litigation areas. Being a former associate at a prominent Florida Defense Law Firm, Brandon Stein understands the strategy and tactics...[READ BIO]