Case Update: Blake v. Singer

August 18, 2016 |

The plaintiff, Blake, was rear-ended at a stop light by defendant, Singer. Blake was stopped at the intersection and remained stopped after the light turned green. She claimed there were emergency vehicles going through the intersection. Singer confirmed that he heard sirens from the emergency vehicles, but contended that Blake, who was in the lane to Singer's left, suddenly and unexpectedly switched lanes about 50 to 100 feet in front of him. Singer estimated the vehicles were traveling about 2 to 5 miles per hour prior to impact. Blake moved for a directed verdict on liability based on the presumption of negligence against the rear driver in a rear-end collision, but her motion was denied. In Clampitt v. D.J. Spencer Sales, 786 So. 2d 570 (Fla. 2001), the Florida Supreme Court clarified that a sudden stop by the front driver, in and of itself, is insufficient to overcome the presumption of negligence. Only a sudden stop at a time and place where it could not reasonably be expected by the rear driver creates a factual issue. The Fourth District Court of Appeal found that because the plaintiff was at least 50 feet ahead when she pulled in front of the defendant, and there were emergency vehicles in the intersection, the defendant's explanation was insufficient to rebut the presumption of negligence.

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