A Floride appellate court opinion has again reminded us that sometimes the lead vehicle in a rear-end collision can bear some, even most, of the legal responsibility. It appears from the opinion that a jury actually determined the lead driver was more at fault than the rear driver. Because of the doctrine of comparative negligence that jury decision would significantly reduce the damages awarded to the injured driver of the lead vehicle. The appellate court ruled it was error for the trial court to determine, after the jury verdict, that defendant was 100% at fault for the collision, instead of 34% as had been jury’s determination.
Where defendant presented evidence from which jury could reasonably conclude that lead driver’s negligence contributed to the collision, the presumption of negligence that attached to the driver of the rear vehicle was rebutted, and the issue was for jury to decide.