We sometimes talk to Florida car crash victims who are under the mistaken belief that, because they were partially at fault in an accident, they aren’t eligible to recover compensation for their damages.
Often, that’s because they’ve moved to Florida from somewhere else. Many states do have such a rule, known as contributory negligence. Not ours.
Florida law allows victims to recover compensation for auto accident injuries, even if they are partially at fault.
Here in The Sunshine State, we follow the doctrine of comparative negligence, sometimes referred to as “comparative fault.” It allows at-fault parties to share in liability while still paying victims for their economic damages and suffering. What does it mean, and how does it work? We explain everything you need to know below.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work in Florida?
When you file an auto accident lawsuit in Florida, the jury will determine what percentage of the fault is yours. They’ll do that by looking at all the facts and then comparing your negligence to the other parties’. Let’s look at an example. Assume that Fred and Sheila are two drivers in a car crash. Fred is unhurt but Sheila suffers $100,000 in total damages. Fred was speeding and ran a red light, but Sheila’s car was a little too far out in the intersection. The jury might decide that Sheila was 10% at fault. In that case, they would reduce her damages by 10%. Accordingly, Sheila would receive $90,000 in compensation.
Of course, that’s just an example. Most cases are more complicated than that, but the general principle still applies.
Negotiating Comparative Negligence
Often, the parties are able to reach a private settlement agreement without resorting to a trial. That usually works to everyone’s advantage, but it requires reaching an agreement about liability without the help of a jury.
An experienced attorney can help you make the case for compensation during settlement negotiations. Assigning fault isn’t always an exact science, so having a competent lawyer on your side can make a big difference in the amount of compensation you receive. When faced with issues of comparative negligence we often employ the best accident re-constructionist. With the help of experts we can better calculate factors such as speed, direction of travel, location, and point of impact. These experts can make the difference between a good result and a great result.
Even if your case does go to trial, the fault may be apportioned during a less formal meeting known as mediation. Here again, having the right lawyer can ensure that you recover the maximum available compensation.
Take Your Next Steps with an Experienced Miami Car Crash Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in Florida, you are entitled to compensation for your damages — even if you do share in the liability. While it may not be possible to succeed in your claim if you were entirely at fault, a lawyer can make sure that you aren’t given more of the blame than you deserve.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC. We’re here to help
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.