Following another car too closely on the roadway is not only dangerous but it is also a citable offense in Florida. Proving a car was following too close in a car accident can be a challenge unless you have reliable witness testimony or video evidence. However, with the way the Florida careless driving statute is structured, you may not have to prove tailgating to establish negligence and liability on the part of the rear vehicle’s driver.
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What Do I Need to Prove a Driver Was Tailgating in a Car Crash?
If you, or your car accident lawyer can obtain video footage of a car crash, this is the most reliable way to prove the other driver was following too closely. Unfortunately, finding video of your crash may prove especially difficult.
If there were witnesses to the crash, their testimony can often help prove that the other driver was tailgating. For this reason, car accident attorneys encourage accident victims to collect as much information as possible from all witnesses at the scene.
But, even if no witnesses can substantiate your claim that the other driver followed too closely, it may not hurt your case based on how the Florida statutes define careless driving.
How Does Pure Comparative Fault Apply When a Car Was Following Too Close?
Even if a car was following too close in a car crash, you may have partial liability if that driver’s attorney can prove that you contributed to the accident. However, the burden of proof is on them to prove your contribution.
Under Florida’s pure comparative fault (sometimes called pure comparative negligence) laws, each driver involved in a crash may have contributed to the accident. If one driver bore 80 percent of the fault, but the other was 20 percent liable, the driver with lesser fault can pursue financial compensation for their injuries from the more liable party; however, they can only recover a maximum of 80 percent of their damages.
To prove the other driver’s liability, your lawyer must demonstrate the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
First, your lawyer will demonstrate that the other driver owed you a duty of care to not follow your car too closely on the road. Second, that the driver breached their duty when they tailgated you (or drove too fast, recklessly, etc.), which, third, caused the accident and your resulting injuries. Fourth, your lawyer will establish the final element, damages, by providing copies of your medical bills, lost wage statements, etc.
What Should I Do After a Rear-End Car Accident in Florida?
To protect your legal rights after a rear-end collision, call 911 immediately after a crash. If you did not call the police to report at the scene, report it now. Creating an accident report is important to prove fault for the accident.
Seek medical attention, even if you believe you suffered no injuries. Many types of accident injuries – such as whiplash and internal injuries – do not manifest for hours or even days. If you did not see a doctor yet, do so now.
Save photos of the vehicles, the accident scene, and anything else that may help establish what happened leading up to the crash. For rear-end collisions, even skid marks on the road can be important.
Finally, contact witnesses to the accident. Ask if they have any cell phone photos or video of the accident and, if they would share them with you. They may provide testimony to the insurer or court later to help you establish that the other driver was following too closely.
Do not admit any fault or give a statement to any insurance company until you contact a car accident lawyer to understand your options. The Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine will provide a free consultation to help you understand your options. Contact us today at 800-747-3733.