After suffering an injury after an accident, the last thing you want to worry about is being held responsible for someone else’s negligence. Unfortunately, recent tort reform in Florida requires a determination of the extent of each party’s responsibility for an accident. This has huge implications for personal injury cases and potentially impacts whether you can recover enough damages to cover the full extent of your pain and suffering. Understanding how comparative negligence works in Florida, may change the way you move about the world.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal principle that is used to determine liability in personal injury cases. The idea is that multiple parties could share some responsibility for the accident, and other drivers should not be held accountable for the other’s negligence. Florida uses the “pure comparative negligence” principle. This means that when someone is injured in an accident and they are partially at fault, their compensation will be reduced proportionately to their level of fault. For example, if you turn onto a street and are rear-ended by another driver, your actions will be questioned. Did you look both ways? Did you give oncoming drivers enough time to stop? Depending on the specifics, a determination will be made about the percentage you’re at fault, which could negatively impact the amount of your compensation.
Implications for Personal Injury Claims
Whether or not you’re partially at fault for your injuries will ultimately impact your ability to obtain compensation. Under the comparative negligence rule, the court may determine the percentage of fault assigned to each party involved in the accident. Returning to the initial example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your potential compensation will be reduced by 20%. This percentage has a tipping point. If your percentage of fault is over 50%, you are not eligible for any compensation.
This mid-point is capable of making or breaking a case. The defendant and their attorney will attempt to use comparative negligence as a defense strategy to reduce their liability. Their defense will use whatever evidence they can to argue that your negligence contributed to the accident in the hopes that they can lower the compensation to which you may be entitled.
What to Do in the Aftermath of an Accident
Even if you’re certain that you are 0% liable for your injuries after an accident, there are steps you need to take to increase your chances of the highest possible compensation. First and foremost, you must treat your injuries no matter how small they seem at first. If you’re able, take photos or video of the scene and the damages, and ask witnesses for contact information. At the earliest opportunity, call an experienced personal injury attorney for further guidance.
Unfortunately you have to assume that the other party is also working with an attorney to develop their case against you, or build their own defense. Your attorney will help protect your rights and work to maximize your compensation by assisting with collecting evidence, assessing the extent of your liability, negotiating with insurance companies, and building a strong case on your behalf.
Comparative negligence has the power to be a saving grace or an expensive headache. Working with a legal team that prioritizes your right to seek compensation will be essential in making sure your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering are completely covered. Whether it’s a slip and fall injury or a vehicular crash, the team at Feldman Legal Group are dedicated to getting you the payout you deserve. For a free consultation, call 1-877-946-8293 or fill out a contact form online.