Unfortunately, car accidents occur frequently in the state of Florida. According to preliminary data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2022, there were 381,156 car crashes across the state, with 242,622 involving injury and with 3,292 fatalities. Many of these accidents were rear end collisions. The question is, who is at fault for these collisions under Florida law?
While the answer varies according to the facts of each accident, in Florida, the party who causes a collision from the rear is presumed to be at fault. Florida law states that all drivers must stay at a safe distance between vehicles…a distance that is “reasonable and prudent.”
In a Florida negligence case, it is the Plaintiff’s burden to prove the Defendant is at fault by a “preponderance of the evidence.” In rear end collisions, this burden of proof shifts to the Defendant to prove that he or she is not at fault, either partially or completely. In other words, the rear driver is presumed to be at fault for the car accident. The rear driver may rebut this presumption by producing evidence that “fairly and reasonably tends to show” that he or she was not negligent. This evidence can be in the form of witness testimony, video footage, photographs, etc. In most instances, a mere allegation by the rear driver without more evidence seems insufficient to overcome the presumption of fault in a motor vehicle accident.