Getting compensation after a car crash depends on who was at fault for the wreck. In situations where both drivers are partially at fault in a car accident, a complex law comes into effect. In Florida, the legal doctrine of pure comparative negligence means if you partially caused the accident itself or the resulting damages, the court will reduce your potential financial settlement by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you pursue an injury accident claim for $200,000, but a jury finds you 10 percent responsible for the accident, the court will reduce your maximum potential claim by 10 percent, or $20,000. That leaves you the ability to recover $180,000.
Your percentage of fault can be difficult to determine, but the car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can help. Contact us today at 800-747-3733 to schedule a free case evaluation.
What Is Pure Comparative Negligence?
Florida’s comparative negligence statute—sometimes called comparative fault law—allows the court to attribute a portion of the blame for an accident to more than one party. Under this rule, you retain your right to pursue damages after a car crash. However, if you contributed to the incident or the damages, you cannot recover full compensation for your losses.
For example, if another driver rear-ended you, the police will likely cite that driver for the accident. The court is likely to support that opinion and will potentially rule that the driver’s recklessness led to the rear-end crash.
However, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, your injuries were likely much worse than they might have been if you had properly buckled up. Consequently, the jury may determine that by not wearing your seatbelt, you doubled the severity of your injuries. In that case, they would assign you 50 percent of the fault.
If your damage claim totaled $100,000, you would only be able to collect $50,000 from the defendant or their insurance company.
Who Determines Fault in a Car Accident?
If an accident involves no serious bodily injuries, it falls under Florida’s no-fault laws. In that case, each driver would pursue compensation from their respective personal injury protection (PIP) insurance carrier. If severe injuries do occur, however, the accident falls under the state’s comparative negligence statutes.
At the time an accident occurs, the local police may issue a citation to one or more of the parties involved, based on an officer’s interpretation of fault. A citation alone does not necessarily close the matter—at least when it comes to seeking damages.
With help from our attorneys, you may pursue a financial settlement from the other party’s insurance company. In some cases, we can negotiate with the insurance company’s lawyers and come to a meeting of the minds. In that case, you will not have to go to court to debate comparative fault.
If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, however, we may recommend taking the matter to court. In that case, the jury will consider the evidence and determine whether one driver was fully at fault or if both drivers were partially at fault for the car accident or damages.
Once a jury determines your share of responsibility, the court will apportion the damages. The jury will award a settlement in full and then the court will issue a judgment that reduces the award by your apportioned percentage of fault.
How Can a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
The primary reason that the other driver’s insurance company is likely to allege comparative negligence is to reduce the value of the settlement they must pay out. Even if you did not cause the accident, they may try to convince a jury that you did.
Our lawyers can assemble evidence to demonstrate the facts of the accident to the jury. This may include using photographs of the scene, testimony from witnesses, or even a professional accident reconstruction.
If we can show the other driver’s behavior demonstrated the four legal elements of negligence—and yours did not—we can hold them fully responsible for your damages. The elements we must prove include:
- The driver had a duty of care to others on the roadway and the public;
- They failed to uphold their duty and an accident resulted;
- Their violation of duty was the cause of an accident and the subsequent injuries and damages; and
- You suffered injuries and damages—which we can prove with documentation like medical bills and employment records.
If you do share some blame for the crash, our lawyers will make sure the court assigns a fair percentage of fault based on your actions.
How Can I Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer Today?
At the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine, we work to help people who sustained severe injuries in car accidents. We can help you obtain the settlement you deserve—even if both drivers were partially at fault for your crash.
Call 800-747-3733 today for a complimentary consultation.