Rear-End Collision Presumption to be Further Defined by Florida Supreme Court

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In the blog posting dated March 25, 2011, the author discussed the Florida Supreme Court’s review of Cevallos v. Rideout, No. SC09-2238, where the Court will determine how, or if, the rebuttable presumption that a rear-driver was the sole, proximate cause of a rear-end collision applies when the rear-driver was the plaintiff. No decision has been released yet. However, the Florida Supreme Court may further clarify the scope of the presumption in Birge v. Charron, No. SC10-1755 (review granted May 13, 2011),which was the basis for the supreme court’s conflict review of Cevallos. See Charron v. Birge, 37 So. 3d 292 (Fla. 5th DCA2010). Birge presents the additional issue of whether the rear-end collision presumption applies where a passenger in the following vehicle sues the lead driver for negligence. The supreme court will not hold oral argument on this new case.

The Charron court held that the presumption does not apply when a rear-vehicle passenger sues the lead driver for his negligence. The district court’s succinct reasoning was grounded on principles of contributory negligence; specifically, even under Florida’s now defunct contributory negligence rule, a passenger in the rear vehicle was entitled to pursue all potential tortfeasors, including the forward drivers, in a rear-end collision.

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