Rear-end collisions happen when a trailing vehicle strikes the back of a leading vehicle. While the vehicles come to an abrupt stop, the occupants inside get violently thrown back and forth.

Rear-end car accidents have many different causes. As a result, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car crash.

Learn some of the reasons rear-end collisions happen and who’s to blame under Florida law.

Causes of Rear-End Collisions

Your braking distance includes your reaction time plus braking time. Your reaction time is the time it takes for you to realize you need to stop. It could be affected by drugs, alcohol, or distractions. Your braking time increases with your speed.

Rear-end collisions happen when the trailing vehicle does not stop before hitting the leading vehicle. Below are a few ways this happens, along with who bears the fault.

Following Too Closely

In 2020, Florida had 53,205 car accidents caused by tailgating. Six of these accidents were fatal. Over the same time, Florida police officers issued 13,691 citations for tailgating.

A following distance of three seconds provides a safe cushion between you and the car in front of you. This distance will vary with your speed.

When traveling on the freeway at 65 miles per hour, you cover 96 feet every second. A following distance of three seconds means you should leave 288 feet between you and the next vehicle.

When road conditions degrade, you need to increase your following distance. In a downpour, your tires cannot stop your vehicle as quickly. You also react slower because the rain reduces visibility.

The fault for accidents caused by tailgating frequently (but not always) lies with the driver of the trailing vehicle. It’s important to note that many accidents have multiple causes. Just because you’re hit from behind doesn’t mean that you will always be free of liability.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving slows your thinking, leading to a longer reaction time. This, in turn, increases your braking distance.

At 35 miles per hour, your car travels over 50 feet during a one-second distraction. Glancing at your phone can make the difference between braking safely and rear-ending the car in front of you.

While there’s always a possibility that there could be multiple causes of a crash, distracted driving accidents who rear-end another car are usually caused by the trailing driver.

Intoxicated Driving

Drugs and alcohol slow your reactions. They also impair your judgment. As a result, you have a higher likelihood of misjudging the speed or distance of the car in front of you. You will also react more slowly when it brakes.

Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol who are involved in a crash are often at fault.


Speeding increases your braking distance. When you travel faster than the speed limit, you also increase your chances of coming upon a slower-moving car. If your speed contributes to the crash, you’ll be blamed.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving makes you take risks. Tailgating or brake-checking might seem like a good way to release your anger. But these actions can injure or kill you and other road users.

Florida had 5,118 aggressive driving crashes in 2020. These collisions caused 101 deaths and 1,842 injuries.

Aggressive drivers can be held responsible when their angry habits cause an accident.

Improper Lane Change

You make an improper lane change when you move into another vehicle’s lane without leaving a safe distance between you and the trailing vehicle. By cutting off other drivers, you leave them without enough space to stop safely.

In this case, the fault most likely lies with the driver of the leading vehicle that cut off traffic.

Improper Backing

Rear-end collisions do not always happen in traffic. They can also happen in parking lots and driveways. When you reverse into traffic, failing to look out for other cars can put you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The fault for a rear-end collision resulting from improper backing up usually falls on the driver who was reversing. But the oncoming driver might share responsibility if they were speeding.

The Relevance of Fault

Florida uses a no-fault auto insurance system. In minor cases, fault does not matter. But if your medical bills exceed your auto policy’s limits or you suffer a permanent injury, you can sue the at-fault driver for damages.

Determining who caused the crash isn’t always easy. An experienced Tampa, FL car accident lawyer can help evaluate the circumstances of your case. They can protect you if you’re being blamed. And they can help you recover compensation if someone else was at fault.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Tampa, FL

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Tampa, FL, and need legal help, contact our Tampa car accident lawyers at Catania & Catania Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.

Catania & Catania Injury Lawyers
Bank of America Plaza
101 E Kennedy Blvd #2400
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 222-8545

We also provide legal assistance throughout the Tampa Bay Area including Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Bradenton.