If another driver strikes your vehicle from behind and you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation from the driver of the car that rear-ended you. In these types of cases, damage often goes beyond just the vehicle. For example, you need to make sure your physical injuries are taken care of along with living expenses and potentially lost wages.
For a free evaluation of your situation, call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine to speak with a rear-end collision accident and injury lawyer in West Palm Beach, FL at 1-800-747-3733. Our personal injury lawyers can explain your options as well as answer any questions you may have about the insurance or litigation processes.
The Most Common Rear-End Injury
If you are involved in a rear-end collision, you may suffer from a sprain or strain injury, commonly referred to as a “whiplash” injury. When your vehicle is struck from the rear, your head can be jarred back and forth. The extent of your injury may not be known immediately. A few days after the accident, you can experience stiffness in the neck, neck or back pain, dizziness, headaches, and memory problems.
Receiving medical care immediately or soon after an accident is crucial. Having a medical report can help your claim and also help protect you from potentially severe injuries. Having a record of your injuries may help strengthen your claim for a settlement for a whiplash injury or other injury, whether it is against the insurance company of the driver, or goes beyond that into court.
Florida’s Insurance Requirements & Coverage
All drivers in the state of Florida are required to have personal insurance protection (PIP) coverage. Also known as Florida’s no-fault insurance, this policy covers up to $10,000 in medical benefits. Drivers in this state also must have $10,000 in liability insurance for property damage. Drivers should, but are not required to, carry liability insurance for personal injury damages.
Once you exhaust your PIP coverage, you can proceed against the other driver’s liability coverage. If your damages exceed that coverage, you can file a claim under your policy for underinsured motorist insurance coverage.
Unfortunately, insurance might not cover all of your damages, and that is where legal help comes in. Our team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you determine how much your case is worth and the best way to pursue compensation.
Proving Who Was at Fault in a Rear-End Collision
A driver must follow another vehicle at a safe distance. If your vehicle is rear-ended, Florida law presumes the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended you is at fault, but a rebuttal can happen.
How a Driver Rebuts the Presumption of Negligence in a Rear-End Collision
The driver of the vehicle that rear-ended you can rebut the presumption that he or she was negligent by showing that your negligence contributed to the accident. Here are some examples:
- You suddenly stop your car, and the vehicle behind you, although not following your car too closely, did not have enough time to stop his or her vehicle.
- You suddenly change lanes, and the driver in the rear did not have time to stop or reduce the speed of his or her vehicle to avoid hitting your vehicle.
- You stop to make a turn but fail to activate your turn signal.
- Your brake lights are not working, so the driver in the rear does not know your vehicle is about to stop or reduce its speed.
You must prove negligence on the part of the driver whose vehicle rear-ended you.
The driver of the vehicle that rear-ends you may not be able to show you were entirely at fault. Under Florida’s comparative negligence rule, the damages you may recover are reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you.
When you file your personal injury suit, the driver whose vehicle hit your vehicle may file a counterclaim against you to recover for his or her damages. The jury may find that you were both negligent. For example, if you were 40 percent at fault and the driver that rear-ended you was 60 percent at fault, you recover 60 percent of your damages, while the other driver recovers 40 percent of his or her damages.
Brake Failure as a Defense to a Rear-End Collision
The driver of the vehicle that rear-ends you may claim brake failure as a defense for not being able to avoid striking your vehicle. A claim of partial brake failure will not help a driver who was following your car too closely or not paying attention. The driver would have struck your vehicle even if the brakes were working properly.
A defense based on brake failure will also fail if the driver knew his or her brakes were bad and failed to have them repaired. For example, the brakes could have been squeaking when pressed, or the car may not have been stopping as it should.
Proving Who Was at Fault in a “Chain Reaction” Accident
A “chain reaction” accident involves a series of rear-end collisions. The accident could involve three or four cars, or, on a day when the road conditions are icy, a dozen or more vehicles. The driver of the second car is usually found at fault. If you are the third or fourth driver in a four-car “chain reaction” accident, you may be able to receive compensation from the driver of the second car.
The driver of the first car may be partially at fault, for example, if the first vehicle came to a sudden and unexplained stop. Some of the drivers of vehicles in the chain may be found partially at fault if they were following the vehicle in front of them too closely and should have been able to avoid the collision.
Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Today
If you have injuries from in a rear-end collision in West Palm Beach Florida, contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733.