Comparative Negligence: What it is and How can it Affect Your Auto Accident Claim?
Accidents occur every day on Florida roadways. Unfortunately, these cases aren’t always black and white. In many situations, there is more than one person at fault for the accident that occurs. While you may find some cases where one person is 100% to blame and another person is 100% faultless; the majority of accident cases fall someplace between this rather cut and dry spectrum.
Determining who is to blame is a crucial factor in any type of slip and fall, motorcycle, truck or car accident. This is due to the fact that figuring out who is to blame determines liability, which then specifies who will have to pay for any damages that occurred because of their fault or negligence.
This is the point when comparative negligence comes into play.
Introducing Comparative Negligence in Florida
Comparative negligence was adopted in Florida in 1973. This doctrine allows a jury to more accurately assign or apportion negligence or blame in accident cases. Florida is one of 13 other states that has this law. The other states that utilize comparative negligence including Washington, South Dakota, Rhode Island, New York, New Mexico, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and California.
Why is Comparative Negligence Important?
Before this doctrine was adopted in Florida, if you were involved in an accident and determined to be at fault – in even a slight amount – you would not have been entitled to receive anything for their losses or injuries. As you can imagine, this was an extremely harsh justice system.
What Does this Mean?
Thanks to comparative negligence, more than a single person can be found responsible for a slip and fall or motor vehicle accident. It is extremely common for two (or even more) people to have been acting carelessly at the same time, and both their actions contributed to the accident. For example, in some cases, one person may be found 90% at fault, while the other is only 10% to blame. The injured individual who was 10% at fault would receive that much less in monetary compensation. This means if they had a case worth $100,000, they would only get $90,000. This system is much fairer to everyone involved.
Who Determines the Split-Up or Apportionment of Fault?
According to Florida law, juries can apportion the fault percentages if you have a case that winds up going to trial. A different method that is often used to split up fault and to determine who is financially responsible is mediation. This is where clients and lawyers work together to negotiate a settlement, which can avoid a costly and lengthy trial process.
How is the Percentage Proven?
In many accident cases, it is typical for one party to blame the other and then it comes down to the “he said/she said” situation. At this point, your lawyer can hire an accident reconstruction specialist to investigate and review the situation to determine what really happened.
If you are worried about being partly to blame in an accident, or are unsure if the situation is not completely your fault, then it is best to work with a personal injury attorney in Florida. To learn more, or schedule a consultation for your case, contact the attorneys at the Leifer Law Firm by calling (561) 440-7697.