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Understanding Comparative Negligence in Florida - Jones Law Group

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Understanding Comparative Negligence in Florida

You could still obtain compensation even if you were partly at fault for the car accident that resulted in your injury, thanks to the legal principle known as “comparative negligence.” Even though you contributed to the accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get money for your medical bills and other expenses.

The attorneys with Jones Law Group would like to share some information to give you an understanding of comparative negligence and how it may apply to your case. We can also work to help you obtain as much compensation as possible. Call 727-571-1333 or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence applies in cases where more than one party is responsible for causing harm or injury to another party.

Under comparative negligence, the degree of fault or responsibility of each party involved in an incident is considered, and damages are allocated accordingly. If a plaintiff is partially responsible for their injuries or damages, they’ll lose compensation based on their percentage of fault.

For example, suppose you’re 20% at fault for the accident because you were speeding, and the other driver is 80% to blame for running a red light. Your recovery of damages would be reduced by 20%. If your damages were $100,000, the most you could receive would be $80,000.

Florida is what’s known as a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means you can still recover damages even if you’re found to be primarily at fault for your own injuries. Using the above example, suppose your share of the blame was 80%. You could still sue the other driver for 20% of your damages.

How Will Florida’s Comparative Negligence Law Affect Your Claim?

Comparative negligence could make it challenging to recover total compensation for your injury. Insurance companies often try to shift as much blame as possible onto the plaintiff to reduce their liability.

In addition, Florida also has a four-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which means that you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. You may lose your right to recover damages if you miss the deadline.

An experienced attorney can help you navigate Florida’s comparative negligence law. They can gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and build a solid case to maximize your recovery of damages. They can also help ensure the lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations and fully protect your rights.

Examples of Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases

Comparative negligence can arise in various car accident scenarios, where multiple parties may sometimes be at fault. Here are some common scenarios:

Rear-end collisions

In a rear-end collision, the driver who strikes the vehicle in front of them is usually to blame. However, if the driver in front tailgates or suddenly slams on their brakes, they may be partially at fault for the accident.

Pedestrian accidents

If a driver hits a pedestrian, the driver is usually at fault. However, if the pedestrian was jaywalking or crossing against the signal, they may be found partially at fault for their injuries.

Failure to wear a seatbelt

If you suffered an injury in an accident and weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you may be found partially at fault for your injuries.

Issues That Arise Because of Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence can create several issues in personal injury cases, including:

  • Difficulty in determining fault: Comparative negligence can make it difficult to determine who is at fault for an accident. Insurance companies and defense attorneys may try to shift blame onto the plaintiff to reduce their liability.
  • Complex legal proceedings: Personal injury cases involving comparative negligence are more complex and time-consuming. Both sides may need expert witnesses and gather extensive evidence to support their arguments.
  • Jury confusion: Jury members may need help understanding comparative negligence and applying it correctly in their deliberations.

Comparative Negligence in a Multi-Car Accident

Determining fault can be complex in accidents involving multiple vehicles. The insurance company assesses the driver’s actions and degree of fault to determine the allocation of damages.

Suppose Driver A suffers a traumatic brain injury in an accident involving two other motorists, Drivers B, and C. Driver A has $500,000 in damages. 50% of the fault goes to driver B because they were driving while distracted, and driver C was 40% to blame because they were speeding. Driver A is 10% at fault for their injury because they didn’t wear their seatbelt.

Then, driver A could sue Driver B for 50% of their damages ($250,000) and Driver C for 40% ($200,000). Since Driver A was 10% to blame, they won’t be able to recover the other $50,000.

Evidence Used to Determine Shared Liability

Evidence plays a crucial role when determining shared liability in a personal injury case. Here are some common types of evidence we use to  determine shared liability:

  • Police reports often contain valuable information about the accident, including witness statements, vehicle damage, and the location of the vehicles. These reports can provide substantial evidence to determine fault and shared liability.
  • Eyewitness testimony can provide valuable insight into how the accident occurred. Witnesses may be able to describe the actions of each party involved and provide insight into who was at fault.
  • Accident reconstruction is a method of analyzing an accident to determine how it occurred. Reconstruction often involves examining the accident scene, analyzing vehicle damage, and using computer simulations to recreate the accident.
  • Medical records can provide essential proof of the injuries sustained in the accident. Records can help determine the extent of damages and who may be at fault for your damages.
  • Surveillance footage from cameras in the area where the accident occurred may provide valuable evidence to determine fault and shared liability.

Contact Jones Law Group to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

Again, cases involving comparative negligence can be highly complex. But a Jones Law Group attorney can spell everything out and provide the support you need during this difficult time. Use our online contact form or call 727-571-1333 for a free case evaluation as soon as possible.

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio