Percentage of Fault: If My Accident Was Partly My Fault, Can I Still Recover Damages From the Other Driver?
It is raining, the roads are slick, and you are speeding, but you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that is primarily someone else’s fault because the person who hit you was texting while driving. Since the other person bore some fault in the accident because that person was operating his or her vehicle negligently, you are entitled under Florida law to recover for your damages. It does not matter what you were doing or whether you were acting in a negligent manner at the time that the accident occurred. If the other person was negligent and that resulted in injuries or property damage to you, then you are entitled to recover for those injuries or property damage from that person. This is often a misunderstood concept. Many of our clients and prospective clients ask our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley whether they should be worried, given they feel their own actions may have had some role, but not all, in causing the accident in which they were injured. The answer is: don’t worry. A jury of six people will make the decision as to how much blame you deserve for the accident in which you were injured; that is, what is your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were speeding and the roads were slick, then the defense likely will attempt to convince the jury that the accident was your fault for speeding when the roads were slick. That is to say, the negligent motorist who crashed into your vehicle because he or she was texting will try to convince the jury that those actions did not cause your injuries; instead, it was your own actions in speeding that caused your injuries. Juries typically do not like to hear someone who was acting negligently trying to pass the buck. Therefore, Florida law protects your ability to go after the texting driver for the consequences of his or her negligent behavior. Florida law also tries to be fair by allowing the jury to assess a percentage of fault to each party involved in an accident. In the above scenario, that means you can only recover damages for the texting driver’s percentage of fault in causing an accident.
Your Recovery Will Be Reduced by Whatever Percentage of Fault You Had for the Accident
How does this actually play out in the real world? Under Florida law, the other driver in the above scenario was negligent and his negligence directly injured you. It’s actually extremely common that an accident may be the direct result of multiple people’s actions. Juries around the state are called upon daily to sort through difficult questions as to who was at fault for a particular motor vehicle accident. Juries are surprisingly good at cutting through all the finger pointing to come to a fair resolution as to who was at fault and which party bears what percentage of fault. The jury will thus assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident. The plaintiff, or victim, will be able to recover whatever percentage of the victim’s damages were caused by the other motorist’s negligence. Therefore, if a jury decides in the hypothetical case above that you suffered $100,000 in damages but that the accident was 20% your fault and 80% the fault of the texting driver, then you would be able to recover $80,000 from that driver and his or her insurer.
Contact Schwed Adams & McGinley
At Schwed Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience. Many of our firm’s cases stem from motor vehicle accidents or other personal injury scenarios in which fault may not be clear or in which multiple parties, including our client, may have been at fault. Many personal injury attorneys want perfect cases. Over the course of our attorneys’ collective decades in practice, we have dealt with many difficult cases in which multiple parties were at fault, but we were still able to obtain compensation for our clients. Therefore, regardless of how complicated the situation that occurred, we know how to handle exactly what happened to our client. We will be ready and able to demonstrate to the jury that our client’s injuries were caused, in whole or in part, by someone else’s negligence. No matter the type of accident or scenario, contact our experienced attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 694-6079 for a free consultation today if you have been injured or a loved one has been killed or injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida.