Understanding Florida’s Comparative Negligence System
One thing to keep in mind if you’re injured because of another person’s negligence is that more than one person might be to blame. Different states have different methods for apportioning fault in these situations — Florida follows the comparative negligence standard.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work?
Pure comparative negligence means that the amount of damages you are entitled to is limited by your degree of negligence. For example, let’s say that you are involved in a car accident. In this scenario, another driver ran a red light and crashed into you. But it turns out that you were speeding, and if you had been going the speed limit you might not have been in the intersection at that moment. It is determined that you were 40 percent at fault for the accident, which means that the damages you can recover from the other driver will be reduced by 40 percent.
It works the same way when there are other actors involved. Let’s say you were safely stopped at a red light and following all of the traffic laws. The light turns green and you look both ways before proceeding into the intersection. Suddenly a car speeds by you, and another car runs their red light. They crash right in front of you and bounce into your car, and it is determined that they are both at fault for your injuries (and you were in no way at fault). Who would have to pay damages? Most likely, they both would. They would each be held responsible for their percentage of fault.
Who Apportions Fault?
If your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, the jury decides who is at fault, and by what percentage. If your case goes to mediation, both sides can talk things through and decide on a fair settlement.
Keep in mind that you have four years from the date of your accident in which to file a personal injury lawsuit. You also have to prove your case. Under Florida law, you can prove negligence if you establish that:
- The party (or parties) who injured you owed you a duty of care;
- The party (or parties) breached that duty of care;
- That breach of duty caused the accident; and
- You were injured in that accident.
All drivers owe each other a duty of care, so in the example above, the speeding driver and the red light runner clearly breached their duty of care.
Contact Us Today
If you are injured because of another person’s (or more than one person’s) negligence, contact a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation. We understand the legal complexities of apportioning fault and can help ensure you receive the compensation that you deserve.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Miami, Fort Myers, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Daytona and Bradenton areas.