From the way you describe the accident, it would be the driver who slammed on her brakes inappropriately, however, in Florida there is a rebuttable presumption of negligence against the driver who did the rear ending.
In Florida, the person who is at the rear is at fault, unless there is a sudden stop without warning at a time and place where such a stop would otherwise be unexpected. If you could prove that, then you could argue the other driver was at fault. But, a jury could still find you at fault.
If she tried to stop for the yellow light, but you didn't, then I you were predominantly at fault as the rear driver and because you had even more time and distance warning you the light had changed color.
"Fault" also depends on the purpose that you need to make the decision. If you are asking to decide who pays to repair your car, unless you know who the driver was, you can't make a claim against their insurance. If you reported the accident to your insurance company, and carry comprehensive or collision coverage, they should be able to help you.
If you were injured, your PIP coverage, which is "no fault benefits" can help with getting treatment.
If you are asking for personal knowledge, I agree with Sagi, above, that the driver who stopped abruptly in front of you likely bears most, if not all, of the fault.
No attorney-client relationship is intended by this answer.
Stating the obvious here, but if the other drove off without stopping to see if you were ok, the fault should be placed on that "phantom driver." You need to tell your insurance company that the driver slammed on his/her brakes and then drove off (which is a violation of the law in itself). I agree with what the others have said, but if that driver left the scene, it was likely because he/she was drunk or didn't have insurance. You do not want to tell your insurance company that you think you were at fault because of what other attorneys told you about the presumption in Florida of a rear-end collision. If you have been injured, you will have PIP benefits to get medical treatment regardless of fault and if you have UM on your policy, you may be able to make a claim on your insurance. Personal injury attorneys provide FREE initial consultations. You should call one to get an opinion and bring all of your insurance paperwork with you.
It sounds like you may be at fault for following too closely or traveling too fast for conditions. The other driver may be partially at fault for breaking quickly if it was not necessary.
I suggest you report the incident to your automobile liability insurance carrier in the event this incident comes back to bite you 3 or 4 years from now. The collision also should have been reported to the police, as this is a hit and run situation and the other driver had an obligation to report the incident. Failure to notify your insurance carrier about this hit and run incident could potentially void your coverage if you are later sued for causing this person some type of personal injury or property loss.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.
It is impossible to determine fault from a short Avvo posting. Always report every accident to the police and your insurance company, or it will come back to bite you.
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