Can Florida’s Comparative Negligence Laws Reduce My Compensation for a Car Accident?
Yes, Florida’s comparative negligence laws can reduce your compensation for a car accident claim if you were partially at fault for the collision. The reasoning behind this legal theory is that some collisions will be the fault of more than one party. When the fault for an accident is shared between two or more parties, none of the parties should receive full compensation. Therefore, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the crash.
Because your compensation depends on you being “innocent” in the accident, you want to hire a Florida car accident attorney with experience handling complex traffic accident claims. Our attorneys conduct independent investigations to identify and gather evidence we then use to prove you were not at fault for the crash. It is our goal to maximize your compensation, so you receive as much money as possible for your claim.
Florida’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law
Some states have adopted a modified form of comparative negligence. In the modified form, the victim’s fault cannot exceed a certain percentage. For example, in a state with a 51-percent rule, the collision cannot be more than half your fault. If the court finds you are 51 percent or more at fault, your claim is denied, and you receive nothing.
However, Florida adopted a pure form of this negligence rule in 1973. You could be 90 percent at fault and still recover 10 percent of your damages. In other words, if your damages total $500,000, you would receive $50,000 ($500,000 less 90 percent). For cases involving substantial damages, filing a claim may be worth the effort and time. However, in smaller cases in which the victim is more than half at fault, the cost and time involved in filing a lawsuit may outweigh the potential benefits.
However, you should not believe what the insurance adjuster tells you about your fault. The adjuster’s job is to pay as little as possible to settle your claim. Therefore, you should always consult an experienced car crash lawyer to discuss your options. An attorney may give you better news regarding your claim than the insurance adjuster for the other driver.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is the failure to act with the same level of care as an ordinary person in a similar situation. In other words, a person does something or fails to do something that causes harm to another person without exercising care for the safety of others.
Proving Negligence in a Car Crash
To establish that a party was negligent and responsible for the damages resulting from a car crash, you must prove the following elements under Florida law:
- The party had a duty of care to the victim
- There was a breach of the duty of care
- The breach was the cause of the accident
- The accident resulted in injuries
- The victim suffered damages because of the injuries sustained in the crash
Every driver has a duty of care to avoid any actions that would result in a car crash. Therefore, proving fault then becomes the crucial element. Once you can prove that the driver did something to cause the crash (i.e. failed to yield right of way, speeding, etc.), you should prove you were injured, and you suffered damages because of the injuries (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, etc.).
To be successful, you must prove each element of negligence. This process can be quite complicated, especially when multiple parties are involved and negligence is being disputed amongst the parties.