Fonger v. Nall, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 17119, 2019 WL 6041100 (Nov. 15, 2019)

Presumption of rear driver’s negligence not rebutted by evidence of a sudden stop by lead driver at a time and place where sudden stops are to be expected.

The rear-end accident in this case occurred at an intersection where the traffic light was green and a sedan in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle stopped at the intersection for no apparent reason. The plaintiff was able to stop before striking the rear of the sedan, but the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle. The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District recognized the general rule that the rear driver in a rear-end collision is presumed negligent. The court also acknowledged that the presumption may be rebutted by evidence of a sudden and unexpected stop by the lead driver. However, the court held that the plaintiff’s stop occurred at an anticipatable time and place and, as such, could not serve as a basis to rebut the presumption of the defendant’s negligence; therefore, the plaintiff was entitled to a directed verdict on that issue.


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