Rear Driver Avoiding Road Emergency That Prevented Him from Braking In Time to Avoid Car Accident
In Sistrunk v. Douglas, 468 So. 2d 1059, 1060 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985), testimony that the rear driver was avoiding another road emergency that prevented him from braking in time to avoid the collision when the forward driver unexpectedly decelerated was sufficient to create a jury question on whether the rear driver was acting reasonably.
Likewise, in Holden v. Dye, 224 So. 2d 350, 351 (Fla. 1st DCA 1969), the presumption of negligence was found to be rebutted when the defendant testified that the plaintiff pulled out sharply from a parking spot in front of the defendant, and that the defendant could not avoid hitting the plaintiff despite applying his brakes and skidding.
The issue of whether the defendant's explanation is sufficient to rebut the presumption of negligence should be evaluated under the standard governing directed verdicts.
In other words, once the rear driver provides an explanation for the collision, a directed verdict should only be granted if the party opposing the directed verdict could not prevail under any reasonable view of the evidence. See Bruce Constr. Corp. v. State Exch. Bank, 102 So. 2d 288, 291 (Fla. 1958); Scott v. Otis Elevator Co., 680 So. 2d 462, 462 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996).
On a motion for directed verdict, the non-moving party is entitled to all reasonable inferences from the facts that would support his or her claim. See Bruce Constr. Corp., 102 So. 2d at 291; Stringer v. Katzell, 674 So. 2d 193, 195 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996), review denied, 698 So. 2d 1225 (Fla. 1997).