Rear-end collisions are some of the most common accidents on the road. They can result in back injuries, whiplash, or more serious harm depending on the speed of travel at the time of impact and other factors. Florida is a no-fault state. This means that after a rear-end collision you may need to first make a claim against your own insurance policy. Only if the damages exceed the no-fault coverage can you sue another driver whose carelessness harmed you. The car accident lawyers of the Dean Law Firm can help you seek compensation if you have been hurt by the negligent actions of another motorist in the Ocala area.Determining Liability and Pursuing Damages After a Rear-End Collision
Historically, Florida courts presumed that the second driver in a rear-end collision was negligent. This presumption existed because the first driver could not see what caused the accident, which made it difficult to present testimony as to what happened. Additionally, the striking car was usually in the best position to avoid the collision. However, a few years ago, several Florida Supreme Court decisions resulted in a change in the law. Now, the second driver can present evidence that rebuts or eliminates the presumption that the second driver was negligent and the sole proximate cause of the accident.
This evidence potentially could allow a jury to find that negligence by a driver in front contributed to cause the crash. For example, if there is a chain accident, a middle driver may be distracted and abruptly hit the brakes before striking the car in front of him or her. The rear driver may be unable to stop in time, even though he or she was not negligent. If the middle driver sues the rear driver for damages, the rear driver can present evidence to show his or her conduct was not unreasonable and was not the sole proximate cause of the accident.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that juries are asked to determine the victim’s total damages and also required to allocate liability among the parties. Suppose, for example, that a distracted driver rear-ends another distracted driver in a large SUV who has braked suddenly to avoid rear-ending a motorcyclist, and the driver of the large SUV sues the last driver in the line. If the last driver can present evidence that the SUV driver's distracted condition was a cause of the accident, the presumption of negligence will be avoided. The jury might determine that the total damages are $100,000 and that the SUV driver was 80% at fault and the defendant was 20% at fault. If that happens, the SUV driver could recover up to $20,000 from the defendant but would be responsible for covering the remaining $80,000.Explore Your Options After a Motor Vehicle Collision with an Ocala Lawyer
If you are hurt in a motor vehicle collision near Ocala or a nearby area, it may be useful to discuss your situation with the attorneys at the Dean Law Firm. You may be experiencing stress about how you will pay your bills, and you may need to take time off work, but you can potentially recover compensation for these losses by holding a negligent driver accountable. We are dedicated advocates for car accident victims. Contact us at 352-387-8700 or via our online form to arrange a free consultation. We represent individuals in Crystal River, The Villages, and other communities in Marion, Lake, Citrus, Levy, and Sumter Counties.