What is the Florida Comparative Fault Rule?
Fault is rarely clear cut in most situations and multiple people may bear varying degrees of fault for the same incident and/or the injuries people suffered as a result. To what extent the various wrongdoers are responsible is almost always an issue in personal injury lawsuits, no matter what kind of underlying factual scenario is involved that caused someone’s injuries. For instance, a motor vehicle accident very rarely occurs simply because of one person’s actions; instead, the actions of many people in combination may result in an accident. It may take a whole constellation of people’ actions in order to cause a large multi-car pileup. Whereas one person may see traffic stopped up ahead just a little too late, the other driver behind him or her might not be paying attention at all because he or she is texting and looks up too late to avoid plowing into the back of the car in front of them and causing what was a low-speed collision to become much worse. This complex reality is reflected in the Florida comparative fault law, which allows the jury to apportion fault to multiple parties in a Florida personal injury lawsuit according to their various degrees of responsibility and then reduce the award that the injured person receives based on the proportion of fault assigned.
Florida’s Rule on Comparative Fault and What It Means for Your Recovery in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Florida is what is known as a pure comparative fault state. What that means is that the jury makes a finding as to what proportion of fault each party may have had, no matter how small, in connection with a certain incident and then reduces the award that the injured person receives based on the proportion of fault assigned. If the main wrongdoer is determined to be 100% at fault, then the victim recovers 100% of his or her damages against that person. If the main wrongdoer is determined to be 60% responsible, with the victim 20% responsible and another party who is not in the lawsuit 20% responsible, then the injured party would only recover 60% of what the jury determines to be his or her damages against that Defendant because that wrongdoer was only responsible for causing those damages.
For example, suppose that the jury determines you should have been looking where you were going when you were riding a bike and you were hit by a drunk driver. Then your recovery in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit against that driver may be reduced accordingly by whatever proportion of fault that the jury assigns to you for causing and/or contributing to your own injuries. This means that, if the jury determines your total damages were $200,000 and you were 20% at fault in causing those damages, you would be entitled to a net judgment of $180,000 against the Defendant(s).
The Old Rule: Contributory Negligence
Florida used to have a rule called contrary negligence. This rule is still followed by a few states, among them Virginia. Contributory negligence is a harsh rule that mandates that if you, as the victim of someone else’s negligence, were found to be even 1% at fault in causing the situation that led to your own injuries, then you were completely barred from recovering even a penny for your injuries from whomever bore the major proportion of fault for those injuries, even if the other person was 99% at fault. According to this rule, if you could have foreseen the danger and avoided it, you are comparatively negligent for causing your own injuries—and that is a complete bar to recovery. Florida did away with this system because it is so unfair to the victims of other people’s negligence, putting in its place a comparative negligence scheme so that every person is held responsible for his or her actions.
Seek the Assistance of An Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a Florida auto accident or any type of Florida personal injury scenario, you should retain an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident in which you were injured to assist you in receiving maximum compensation for your injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence. At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents and other incidents involving personal injuries in Florida. We are experts in Florida comparative fault and know how to argue to a jury in a convincing manner that it was not the fault of our client that he or she was injured, in turn increasing the amount of compensation that our clients receive from their lawsuit. Therefore, if you, a family member or a loved one has been injured in a Florida auto accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.