What To Know About Comparative Negligence & Florida Car Accident Cases?
In Florida, the very first rule used in determining whether or not you are entitled to any compensation for injuries sustained in an accident is known as “comparative fault.” Under the comparative fault system, the judge or jury determines whether or not you contributed in any way to an accident before they award damages.
Florida’s Pure Comparative Fault Rules
Florida is one of the states that operate under pure comparative negligence laws. According to Florida’s system of pure comparative fault, a victim’s level of negligence does not act as a barrier to injury recovery, even if they contributed to most of the fault.
However, the contributory fault chargeable to a claimant proportionately reduces the economic and non-economic damage awarded to them if an injury can be attributed to the fault of a claimant. What this means is that, if it is determined that you contributed to 80% of an accident, you still will be able to recover 20% of losses from the other party.
What is Modified Comparative Fault?
According to modified comparative fault laws, a claimant is only allowed to recover damages if he or she contributed to less than 50% of an accident.
This implies that, if a court of law finds that you were 49% responsible for an accident, you will still be able to recover 51% of your losses from the other party. On the contrary, you will not be able to recover any damages if you contributed to 51% or more of the accident.
Differences Between Contributory Negligence and Comparative Negligence
In a state that applies contributory negligence, victims cannot recover compensation from accidents if they by any means contributed to the crash. For example, if another road user who led to an accident was at a 90% fault, you will not receive any compensation in a contributory negligence state even if your fault was only 10%. For you to get any compensation in a contributory-negligence state, you must have 0% fault.
Another example of contributory negligence would be as follows: if you are walking along a sidewalk which has a utility hole cover that was negligently left open and you fell through the hole injuring yourself, you may not be allowed to seek compensation for your accident since the cause of injury was “open and obvious.” Besides, contributory fault law requires anyone who sees the danger to avoid it rather than contribute more to it.
Car Accident Claims in Florida
Due to Florida’s pure comparative fault system, you are not prevented from suing for damages even if you partly contributed to an accident. This is the case even if you were a major contributor to the crash. However, it does not imply that you will not face recovery barriers.
There is a medical threshold for bodily injuries in vehicle and truck accident claims, meaning your injuries should meet specific levels if you intend to pursue a bodily injury claim in Florida’s courts. Below are the four categories of injuries that meet Florida’s “threshold standard.”
- An injury that has a realistic degree of medical probability to be permanent.
- Severe and permanent loss of a crucial bodily function.
- Significant and lifelong scarring or disfigurement.
The threshold is based on the principle that, in case of injuries are not substantial or permanent, coverage limits provided by driver or victim insurance policies should be enough to meet required compensation levels. If they fail to, you will be allowed to have your claim decided by a jury under the principles of pure comparative fault.
Even though litigating may take longer than settling your claim with the responsible insurance company, it could also lead to higher recovery damages. However, litigation will require more evidence, testimonies, and court appearances.
Who Determines the Percentage of Comparative Fault in Florida?
Once an injury claim gets to a Florida court, the jury assigns each party a portion of fault for the accident. The court works hard to reach a fact-based number that fairly reflects fault. However, attorneys can also effectively argue for a smaller or bigger fault percentage.
Not all personal injury claims end up in a trial. In such cases, it is usually up to the responsible parties to agree on a suitable percentage of fault and reach a reasonable financial settlement. Attorneys can handle these negotiations with insurers and other stakeholders on your behalf.
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Comparative negligence does not apply to vehicle accidents only. The same rules are used for premises liability cases, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and watercraft accidents, among others. Our lawyers have the skills and expertise to reduce your percentage of fault irrespective of your case’s complexity. Get started by filling in your accident details here or call us for a free consultation at 305-376-7868.