What is Comparative Negligence and How Can It Affect Your Case?
Posted on June 1, 2022
Comparative Negligence under Florida Law
In Florida, if you suffer an injury in an accident caused by a third party, you are entitled to compensation. The amount of this compensation can vary due to several factors, such as the circumstances surrounding the accident, the severity of the injuries you suffered, and who was at fault.
However, it is not always easy to determine who was responsible for the accident. In these cases, Florida courts apply a rule known as Comparative Negligence.
What is Comparative Negligence?
When it is difficult to determine who is at fault (for example, if both parties made mistakes that led to the accident), the court may decide to "apportion fault" between the parties. This apportionment has a direct impact on damages. There are different ways to calculate and apply comparative negligence to a case.
Types of Comparative Negligence
Currently, U.S. tort law contemplates three distinct types of comparative negligence.
- Contributory Negligence: This model does not allow the plaintiff to receive compensation for damages if the court determines that they were to some degree responsible for the accident. Even 1% liability could preclude the plaintiff from receiving compensation.
- Pure Comparative Negligence: In this model, the plaintiff still receives compensation for damages, however, the amount will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. If the court determined that you were 20% at fault, you will only receive 80% of the compensation.
- Modified Comparative Negligence: This model functions as an intermediate point between the other two. The plaintiff can still receive compensation, but only up to the limits of what is considered reasonable. In many states, a 50% rule applies – if the plaintiff is deemed to be over 50% at fault, they will not receive any compensation.
How is Fault Determined After an Accident?
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which can either help or hinder your case, depending on the circumstances. To determine liability during an accident, lawyers and insurers analyze 4 elements in each case.
- Duty of Care: Who had the legal responsibility for safety?
- Breach of Duty: Did the responsible party breach their duty?
- Causation: Did the breach cause the accident?
- Damages: What are the losses and expenses?
Insurers will try to prove that you were at least partially at fault for the accident to reduce your compensation, so the help of an experienced attorney is essential.
Did you have an accident? Contact a lawyer as soon as possible!
It is not always easy to determine who was at fault in an accident, and it is the insurers' job to prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve. Our team of accident lawyers has a lot of experience with these types of cases and can help you fight for a fair amount. Please call Jason Recksiedler, certified as an expert in civil trial law by the Florida Bar, or Caroline Fischer Espi. today for a free consultation. We are available at 321-999-1111 24 hours a day. You may also send us an email or fill out the online form located on this page and we will contact you shortly.