Court Says Florida Rear-End Accident Lawsuit Requires Fact Evidence – Arce v. Mullane

We’ve talked in a previous blog post about how Florida law generally presumes that the rear driver in a rear-end car accident is responsible for the crash. The presumption is an effective legal tool for a person who has been injured in a rear-end accident. As the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida explains in Arce v. Mullane, however, a person suing for such injury cannot simply rely on the presumption. He or she must also present factual evidence in support of the claim.

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident with the defendant in 2010. According to her version of the incident, the plaintiff was stopped at a red light when she was rear-ended by the defendant’s car. She sued the defendant for negligence and later filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that there were no material questions of fact outstanding. The plaintiff further claimed that she was entitled to judgment in her favor based on Florida common law, which presumes that the back driver in a rear-end accident is responsible for the crash.

As the District Court explained, however, the plaintiff could not simply rely on her claim that she was rear-ended and the negligence presumption in order to succeed in the action. Rather, she had to produce factual evidence showing that the accident occurred under circumstances that entitled her to the presumption.

“[T]here is essentially no evidence before the court on which to consider the motion – only the parties’ dueling arguments,” the court explained. “On this meager record, lacking in any evidence describing the circumstances of the accident, the court can only conclude that there are material facts in dispute.”

For example, the plaintiff failed to cite testimony from depositions given by her and the defendant before she filed the motion. Nor did she provide affidavits setting out additional facts.

Calling it “untimely” and “woefully insufficient,” the court ruled that an eight-paragraph affidavit that the plaintiff filed shortly after the defendant pointed out the lack of evidence in her response to the plaintiff’s summary judgment motion did not contain the type of evidence necessary to support the motion. Instead, she simply restated her claim that she was stopped at a red light when the accident happened. Furthermore, the court said that even considering the affidavit would be prejudicial to the defendant because she was not given an opportunity to respond to it.

As a result, the court denied the plaintiff’s summary judgment motion and scheduled the case for trial.

Rear-end accidents are among the most common types of automobile collisions in the United States, and the negligence presumption often comes into play when courts determine fault. If you were involved in a rear-end collision, you are well-advised to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you to weigh all of your legal options.

The South Florida rear-end accident attorneys at Anidjar & Levine commonly represent individuals throughout the area, including in Coral Springs and Hialeah, who were injured in rear-end and other auto accidents. We persevere to get the best possible results for our clients.

Related blog posts:

The Presumption of Negligence in a Multi-Car Rear-End Accident – Shirey v. State Farm

Court Upholds $2 Million Verdict in Florida Rear-End Accident Case – Health First, Inc. v. Cataldo

Supreme Court: Injured Driver Can Rebut Florida’s Rear-End Presumption