How do Juries Apportion Fault in Personal Injury Cases?
Some car accidents are clearly the fault of only one party. If, for instance, someone ran a red light and the other driver wasn’t speeding, wasn’t distracted, and was otherwise following all traffic laws, the first motorist would undoubtedly be found responsible for the entirety of the accident. It is not uncommon, however, for both parties to an accident to have contributed in some way, even to a minor degree. In these cases, a jury will often be tasked with assigning both parties’ degree of negligence in causing the accident, which directly affects how much injured parties can recover in damages. For help determining how fault would be apportioned in your own case, please call our experienced Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers today.
Litigating a Case
Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, so most car accident claims are resolved by the parties and their insurers through negotiation and don’t require an official court filing. If, however, the parties cannot reach an agreement about who caused the accident, or if there is a genuine question of fact as to who is responsible for a crash, they may choose to litigate the case in court. Once the decision to litigate has been reached, the parties’ fates will be put in the hands of a jury, who will be tasked with making a number of important liability-related decisions.
What Questions do Juries Address?
The threshold question for most juries in civil cases is whether the defendant was negligent and if so, whether that individual’s negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Juries will also, however, be tasked with addressing whether the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the accident in any way. If both parties are found to have contributed to an accident, the jury will then assign a percentage that represents each party’s degree of fault in causing the accident.
Once these percentages have been assigned, the jury will address how much the injured party suffered in damages, and based on each party’s degree of responsibility, how much the plaintiff should recover in damages. Ultimately, Florida law allows plaintiffs to recover for whatever percentage of their damages can be assigned to the other driver. This means that if the other motorist was 80 percent at fault for causing a crash, the plaintiff will be entitled to 80 percent of the total damages from that individual.
How do Juries Make These Determinations?
Juries who are tasked with assigning responsibility for an accident do so after assessing the credibility of each party’s version of events, as well as the evidence presented by each side, which should include:
- Eyewitness testimony;
- Traffic camera recordings;
- Photos from the scene of the accident;
- The accident report;
- The parties’ medical records; and
- Expert testimony from accident reconstruction specialists.
The strength of this evidence will largely dictate how a jury assigns liability in a certain case, as well as how much they award in damages to the plaintiff.
Experienced Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers
If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Florida law. Please contact the dedicated car accident attorneys at Boone & Davis by calling 954-566-9919 to learn more.