Many people have the common belief that if you are rear-ended by another driver on the roadways of the State of Florida that that driver is automatically 100% at-fault. While the driver that hit you will almost always be held at least partially liable, there are a number of situations where you will have to take at least part, or maybe even all, of the blame for the accident.
Consider the following situations:
You are rear-ended while one or both of your brake lights are out.
You are rear-ended after you brake suddenly for a squirrel that is crossing the road (yes, they’re cute, but this is a bad idea!)
You are rear-ended while in an emergency situation, such as failing brakes, because you don’t have your hazard lights on.
You are rear-ended when you hit the gas after forgetting to put your car back in drive from reverse.
You are rear-ended when your dog accidentally hits the gear shifter into neutral while you are driving.
You are rear-ended because, while intoxicated, you make a sudden and unexpected turn and fail to use your blinker.
If you find yourself in any of the situations above and are found to be partially at-fault, this is known as “contributory negligence.” Under Florida law, if you are found to be contributorily negligent, any damages you have suffered would be reduced by the percentage of your fault. For example, if you brake suddenly and unexpectedly for whatever reason, and are rear-ended, the insurance company could find you are 50% at fault. The driver who hit you would then be found 50% at fault for not maintaining a safe distance between the vehicles. In this scenario, you would only be entitled to 50% of your damages from the insurance company.
One way to prevent being held liable in a rear-end collision is to ensure that you keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance, including making sure all of your lights are working at all times. Also, be cognizant of your driving habits; don’t look down at your phone while driving, as this may cause you to have to make a sudden and unexpected stop. And of course, remember that a squirrel’s life is not as important as your safety and the safety of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians using the roadways. And this goes without saying, do not drink and drive.
Even if you are found to be the at-fault party in a rear-end collision, you may still be entitled to your no-fault benefits. Under Florida law, every insured driver in Florida carries this no-fault protection, commonly known as “PIP” benefits. This is the $10,000.00 that you could receive to help compensate you for your damages, including lost wages, as the result of an accident, whether you are at-fault, partially at-fault, or not at-fault.
Don’t assume that all is lost if you think you may be partially at fault. Call the attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A. We are here to listen to your story and answer any questions that you have. As always, there are no upfront fees or costs.
Contact Dennis Hernandez & associates, PA for more information at (855)LAW-DENNIS, or visit www.dennishernandez.com for more information.