When you are in a rear-end collision, you may assume that the person in the back is at fault. While this is often true, there are times when the driver in front is responsible as well. Regardless of who actually caused the crash, the other party will likely argue that they are not at fault.
Any allegations of partial liability or comparative negligence can cause problems for your injury claim. This is why it is crucial to hire a skilled auto accident attorney even if you believe the case is simple. Reach out to a Tampa rear-end car accident lawyer for help proving liability and getting the compensation you need to move forward with your life and focus on healing.
Common Injuries in Rear-End Collisions
The physics of a rear-impact crash transfers most of the energy to the vehicle in front. We have handled serious and catastrophic injuries from these accidents, such as:
- Injuries to the face and chest
- Whiplash and cervical fractures
- Severe head trauma and brain injury
- Herniated disk and spinal cord injuries
Our verdicts and settlements also include wrongful death recoveries for fatal car accidents. Attorney Mike Hancock formerly worked in insurance defense, so he knows that rear-end accidents are never “open-and-shut” cases. He draws on more than 30 years of knowledge from both sides of these lawsuits to protect your rights and maximize your compensation based on your specific injuries and damages. No matter how straight-forward you believe your case to be, you should seek legal help from a dedicated back-end accident attorney.
What Damages can you Recover After a Rear-End Collision?
A rear-end accident can affect you differently than it might someone else. For example, depending on the impact you might suffer injuries that prevent you from working for a period of time. Other damages you may be able to recover for include:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
How is Fault Typically Assigned in Rear-End Accident Cases in Tampa?
In Tampa, there is a legal presumption that the person driving the car in the back is responsible for a rear-end collision and that the burden is on the defendant to prove otherwise. If the motorist in the rear believes they are not at fault, they must present evidence to rebut the legal assumption.
According to case law, there are two valid defenses to presumed negligence. If you were rear-ended, you and your attorney must be prepared to combat the defendant’s claims.
Can a Driver Argue Against the Presumption of Negligence?
In the Florida Supreme Court of Gulle v. Boggs 174 So. 2d 26, the court found that the defendant in a rear-end accident case is not automatically liable for all injuries and damages. The defendant and their attorney can present evidence of the specific circumstances that led to the collision. Subsequent court decisions since 1965 have outlined two potential rebuttals for defendants: unexpected stopping and sudden medical emergencies.
If the person in front of you suddenly slams on their breaks, you may not have time to stop your car before hitting them. In cases such as these, you may not be liable for the accident, even though you were in the rear.
It is essential to note that this defense is generally only available if a sudden stop occurs on the highway. Further, this argument may not hold up if the person in front claims they were preparing to take an exit. Lastly, the sudden stop defense is not valid when the back-end accident occurs on an average street.
Sudden Medical Emergency
If you were the driver in the rear, you could also argue against the presumption of negligence by proving you experienced a medical emergency at the time of the accident. A typical example is if a motorist has a heart attack behind the wheel and strikes the car in front of them. This defense is usually only successful if the defendant had no history of heart attacks before the accident and had no knowledge that they were at risk of going into cardiac arrest.
In other rare cases, the rear driver may have an epileptic seizure right before the accident. If the defendant in your case uses this defense, our local attorneys can subpoena their medical records to verify the claim. In these cases, we often find that doctors advise their epileptic patients not to drive.
Doctor’s notes can prove useful for the injured party. Similarly, if someone claims a diabetic coma led to the rear-end accident, a skilled lawyer in Tampa might argue that people with diabetes generally know when their blood sugar is too low.
Proving the Fault of the Other Driver
If the driver in the rear does not attempt to argue against the presumption of negligence, you may establish liability by gathering evidence that the motorist in question was distracted at the time of the crash.
For example, if you believe the other driver was using their cell phone right before the crash, an attorney could subpoena their telephone records. At Hancock Injury Attorneys, our experienced legal team can interpret the phone data to determine if the at-fault party was on a phone call, texting, or using social media when they rear-ended you.
Our Tampa car accident attorney team can also request traffic camera footage or security camera footage from businesses near the scene of the accident. The more evidence you have proving the other party’s negligence, the more likely you will receive just compensation for your rear-end collision injuries.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for a Tampa Rear-End Collision
Even if you are able to gather evidence that the other driver was negligent, their insurance company may still refuse to pay damages. This is when hiring an attorney is particularly helpful. In addition to preparing you for potential rebuttals to the presumption of negligence, our attorneys can help you stand up to insurance companies.
There are many potential roadblocks you may face when dealing with insurers. Some of the most common examples include the following:
- If there is little damage to your vehicle, the insurance companies will be skeptical of your injury claims.
- Soft tissue injuries can be very disabling but require extensive medical documentation.
- If the driver who hit you was not insured or carried minimal liability coverage, you may have to fight your own insurance company through a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
- Even when negligence is clear and the injuries are obvious, insurers will still try to settle your claim for as little as possible. In fact, if they know your claim is worth a lot of money, they will pressure you to settle quickly.
With a legal professional on your side, the insurance company is more likely to take your rear-end accident case seriously.
Call Our Firm to Speak with a Tampa Rear-End Accident Attorney
Recovering just compensation from insurance companies is challenging, especially if you do not have extensive knowledge of the relevant case law. Do not attempt to handle your rear-end crash claim on your own.
Our legal team at Hancock Injury Attorneys can be the ally you need to get the compensation you deserve. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation with a Tampa rear-end accident lawyer.
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