What Do You Need to Know About Rear-End Collisions?
Getting rear-ended while driving in Florida can be an incredibly shocking and painful experience. Most drivers don’t see the impact coming and are unable to brace themselves. Even low-speed rear-end collisions can cause serious injuries, including whiplash, facial fractures, spinal damage, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and more. These injuries can lead to expensive medical bills, lost wages, and life-long pain and mobility issues.
Unfortunately, navigating the claims process for a rear-end accident can be complex. At Mausner Graham Injury Law, PLLC, we believe victims deserve fair and full compensation for their losses. Our skilled car accident lawyers have years of experience providing compassionate legal representation to clients. Even if you are partially at fault for the accident, you may still be able to recover damages. However, it is essential to promptly contact a law firm after your accident to ensure your legal rights are protected.
What Causes Rear-End Collisions?
In a rear-end car accident, one vehicle is usually stopped or moving very slowly, and another car runs into it from behind. Occasionally, the front automobile may reverse into the rear vehicle, causing damage. While faulty vehicle parts may play a role in some accidents, most rear-end crashes are due to driver error. Some risk factors for rear-end collisions include:
- Decreased visibility because of fog, darkness, or heavy rain
- Distracted driving
- Drivers engaging in “brake checking”
- Driving in stop-and-go traffic
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription and OTC drugs that can slow reaction times or cause tiredness
- Fatigued driving
- Inattention by the front driver when reversing
- Mechanical failure of brakes or tires
- Sliding due to icy, wet, or slippery conditions
- Suffering a medical emergency, such as a stroke
- Tailgating (not leaving enough stopping room between vehicles)
- Texting or talking on the phone
How is Blame Determined in a Rear-End Crash?
In any motor vehicle accident, the driver is considered liable if they acted negligently and that negligence directly caused injury to others. For a plaintiff to prove negligence, they must demonstrate that the driver owed a duty of care to others on the road and that they breached this duty through their actions. Establishing a duty of care is relatively easy because all motorists are expected to drive safely to prevent accidents, which includes:
- Driving appropriately for the road conditions
- Following all applicable rules and regulations
- Keeping your car in safe working order
- Maintaining control of the vehicle’s speed and steering
- Staying at the scene and seeking care for injured victims post-accident
If both drivers were negligent, they could both be considered at fault for the crash. Then the case hinges on how much responsibility for the accident is apportioned to each driver, based on their actions.
When Can the Front Driver Be Found Liable for a Rear-End Crash?
When a driver fails to operate their vehicle safely, they are liable for their actions, regardless of which car they were driving. In most cases, the rear driver is found to be at fault for a rear-end collision, but there can be circumstances where the front driver is held entirely or partially liable for the accident. If the lead driver engaged in any of these activities, they may be considered responsible for the crash:
- Careless braking or “brake-checking” a vehicle that is driving too closely
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving with malfunctioning or broken brake lights
- Engaging in road rage
- Intentionally attempting to get hit
- Reckless merging
- Reversing into the rear vehicle
- Suddenly pulling out into traffic
Eyewitness reports and video evidence are vital in establishing the sequence of events in rear-end collisions. As evidence can quickly disappear or degrade, promptly retaining a skilled car accident lawyer is beneficial to your claim. Rear drivers who did not cause the accident often face an uphill battle in obtaining a settlement. However, a skilled lawyer can assist in collecting the necessary evidence to support a claim.
Is it Possible to Prevent Rear-End Collisions?
In most situations, these accidents could be avoided by the rear driver maintaining better awareness and leaving adequate room between themselves and the front car. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends using the three-second rule for keeping a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles.
To use the three-second rule, note when the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, such as a fence post or telephone pole, then count the seconds until your car passes the same point. If it is less than three seconds, you should provide more room to help prevent rear-end collisions. An even larger gap is recommended when there are visibility issues, bad road conditions, or if the vehicle in front of you is a semi or a motorcycle.
How Do Florida’s New Comparative Fault Rules Impact Rear-End Collision Claims?
Until recently, Florida operated under a pure comparative fault system. Under this system, individuals injured in an accident could always seek compensation from the other party, but their award would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them. For example, if the plaintiff had $100,000 in losses but was found to be 75% at fault for the crash, they would only be eligible to recover $25,000 in damages.
With the passage of HB837, effective in March of 2023, Florida has become a modified comparative fault state. Under the new law, any party found to be 50% or more at fault for their accident is now unable to recover damages from the other party. With this change, it is more important than ever to seek the assistance of a skilled personal injury lawyer to ensure that you are not getting blamed for a rear-end accident you did not cause because it can directly impact your ability to seek compensation. If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, contact Mausner Graham Injury Law, PLLC, to schedule your free case evaluation today: 786-627-6018.