Did You Know You Can Rebut the Rear-end Presumption?

Michles & Booth Vblog: Did You Know You Can Rebut the Rear-end Presumption? [Transcript]

Good morning. I’m Marcus Michles, and welcome to this week’s installment of the Michles & Booth video blog, where we try to bring you topics that you might find interesting or need to understand a little better in order to get by with a car accident or personal injury question.

I’m going to talk this week about Florida’s rear-end presumption, and although a lot of folks have heard about that, there’s a big misunderstanding, I think, about it. In Florida if you rear-end somebody,

it is presumed by law that you’re at fault. If a law enforcement officer shows up and sees two cars, and one rear-ended the other, the car that’s behind or the second car, that’s the car that’s going to get the ticket. That’s because Florida Statute 316.0895 says that a driver who rear-ends another driver is presumed to be negligent. Now that presumption is rebuttable, and you can make an argument if you’re the car that rear-ended the front car. You can make a successful argument they suddenly stopped or we’re driving negligently in some other way, or their car broke down, or even if you had a mechanical failure, a brake failure, you can rebut the presumption. Now a lot of people misunderstand that and think you’re going to automatically stuck with the ticket. You can fight the ticket, and you can introduce evidence known as comparative evidence, comparative fault evidence. And that’s where Florida has a general, there’s a general law in Florida of comparative negligence. What that means is that the finder of fact or the jury, or the judge or the traffic registry, can find that there was a division or shared negligence.

You know you can divide negligence 50-50, 75-25 or even 99% to 1% in a comparative negligence state such as Florida. In Alabama, the law is different. It’s what’s known as a contributory negligence state, and in that state, if you’re more than 50% at fault, you can’t bring any claim at all. In Florida, however, we have comparative negligence, and comparative negligence would allow you as the car that rear-ended the front car to introduce evidence of the comparative negligence of the front driver. Now that would include a sudden stop; that would include unreasonably driving, let’s say for example, too slow on a highway.

Let’s say you’re driving over hill and it’ a forty five-mile-an-hour speed limit, and you drive over that hill, and suddenly in front of you is a car stopped dead in the road. Well, if you rear-end that car but you were driving legally in the speed limit, you could introduce evidence that car was negligently at stop the road or driving too slow for conditions, and if the jury or judge or magistrate agreed with you, the introduction of that comparative negligence evidence would allow you to win. So it doesn’t mean it’s a conclusion that can’t be changed. It just means the cards act al little bit against you.

So, if you get into an accident with a rear-end collision, make sure you get whatever witnesses, make sure you control the evidence as much as you can and know that even though the law as a presumption of negligence, it’s a rebuttable presumption that you can overcome with evidence of negligence.

Well, that’s this week’s installment of rear-end presumption. If you’ve got questions, give me a call. You can always find us at MichlesBooth.com or michlesbooth.com/blog, and if you’ve got questions or subjects you want to hear, just let me know.

Until next week, I’m Marcus Michles. Thanks for tuning in.


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