Who is Liable in a Rear-end Collision Under Florida Law?

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision car accident, you are not alone. There are about 1.7 million rear-end collisions on U.S. roadways each year causing about 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries. There is often more than meets the eye when it comes to this common type of car accident. Who is liable in a rear-end collision? Is the car positioned in the front position always at fault? Not necessarily; especially in Florida.

Rear-end collisions have proven to be a common source for stress, financial burden, hours of paperwork, and sometimes, unfortunately, physical injury. These collisions aren’t always as simple as a driver accidently bumping in to the car in front of them. There is often much more to the accident, including damage and costs that exceed well beyond what is covered through insurance. Whether you are the responsible driver, the victim, or if both drivers are responsible for a rear-end collision, a simple accident may easily become extremely expensive. It is important to understand who is at fault and what your options are for financial recovery from a rear-end collision incident in Florida.

A rear-end collision may occur for many different reasons. It may be as simple as a cat running in to the middle of a neighborhood street and a car has to slam on their brakes while a car followed too closely behind and crashed in to the rear of the front car. It could also be as complicated as a seven car pile-up on an Interstate after a tractor trailer semi accidently lost a large piece of cargo suddenly blocking the lanes. Often the car driving in the rear is at fault in a rear-end collision, but clearly, this is not always the case. Determining who is at fault differs state to state.


Negligence comes in to play when determining who is liable in a rear-end collision. You are considered to be negligent if your actions fall short of reasonable considering the circumstances.

Negligence is often easy to prove with any car accident, since the responsibility of the driver is in motion; drivers have a specific duty: to drive safely. You must prove the other driver breached their duty of driving safely to prove negligence. They can do this in many ways such as by failing to pay attention to the road, failing to stop within a reasonable time, or by speeding, or failing to follow at a safe distance, or fail to use a turn signal, etc. You must be able to prove the other driver’s breach of duty was the cause of the accident when determining fault. Finally, to determine liability, you must establish that you were left with actual damages as a result of the accident.

There are two types of negligence recognized by different states: comparative negligence and contributory negligence.

Comparative Negligence:

Comparative negligence allocates fault between drivers. It is a rule of law applied in accident cases to determine responsibility and damages based on the negligence of every party directly involved in the accident.

Contributory Negligence:

Very few states operate under this doctrine of common law that states if a person was injured in part due to his/her own negligence, the injured party would not be entitled to collect any damages (money) from another party who supposedly caused the accident.

Presently, Florida is one of thirteen states that follow a pure comparative negligence system. In this system, a judge or jury assigns a percentage of fault to each responsible party and then apportions the damage award accordingly. Using this system, an injured person may recover his or her damages even if the injured person was 99% at fault in causing the injury, with those damages reduced by his or her portion of the fault. For example, in a car accident between Car A and Car B where Car B was found to be 99% responsible, and the jury found that Car B suffered $10,000 in damages, that award would be reduced by Car B’s 99% fault in causing the injury. In the end, Car A would only have to pay 1% of Car B’s damages, or $100 in this case.

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision incident in Florida, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced accident attorney at David & Philpot, P.L. Our attorneys have been representing accident victims for over 20 years. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients and are here to help you. Contact us today at 800.360.7015 for a free consultation.