In a community the size of Jacksonville, dozens of car accidents are bound to strike on a daily basis. There are simply too many travelers and too many opportunities for mistakes to be made behind the wheel. Some of the accidents are minor fender-benders with only minimal property damage. Others are more serious, involving significant personal injuries.
These accidents have a myriad of causes, from driving too fast and failing to keep eyes on the road to mechanical failures and dangerous weather conditions. No matter the underlying cause, the single most common type of accident is a rear-end collision. As the name implies, this refers to a situation where one driver fails to stop in time and runs into the back of the lead vehicle.
For example, two weeks ago, the Florida Times-Union reported on a Jacksonville car accident where a police vehicle was rear-ended by a motorcyclist. According to the report, a police car was stopped at a red light near Interstate 95; a minivan and motorcycle were in the same lane and coming upon the police vehicle. Before reaching the light, the minivan changed lanes. The motorcyclist apparently did not properly adjust to the change and ran into the back of the squad car before veering off and hitting the minivan in the other lane.
Investigations are still underway, and it is not clear why the motorcyclist was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the police car in front of him.
Collisions of this type–running into the stopped car in front–are incredibly common on roadways in Jacksonville and surrounding communities. For that reason, it is helpful for local community members to understand potential legal ramifications of rear-end accidents.
Florida Rear-End Crashes – Presumption of Fault
Unlike many other types of auto accidents, rear-end collisions are unique in that there is a presumption in the law that the rear driver is at fault. These presumptions are incredibly important in possible Florida car accident cases, because the negligent party (or their insurer) is the one who is required to provide redress for those harmed in the accident. In the past, this meant that the driver of the second vehicle usually did not have standing in court to sue the driver of the first vehicle.
Interestingly, late last year the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion which slightly changes the legal dynamic in these rear-end cases. Essentially, the court ruling now allows the rear driver to rebut the presumption that they were at fault. If there is sufficient evidence that that first driver actually caused the accident, then the tables can be turned.
In the new case, Cevalles v. Rideout, the third driver in a three-car collision was allowed to pursue damages against the driver of the vehicle in front of her. In that accident, the middle driver was talking on her cellphone before slamming into the first vehicle. This sudden stop caused the third driver to hit the middle car. Because of this new ruling, the third driver will be able to argue that even though she was the rear vehicle, the collision was actually the middle driver’s fault.
While this new ruling may affect unique cases, most of the time the rear driver will still be found liable in these accidents.
Jacksonville Rear-End Accident Lawyer
All those involved in a rear-end collision should ensure they seek out legal help as soon as feasible following the incident. There are strict time requirements on many of these matters, and so delay should be avoided. The Lawrence Law Group is available to help community members throughout the area on any manner of accidents, including rear-end collisions. Feel free to contact us today to see how we can help.