What If You Were Partially at Fault?
There is a common misconception that in order to receive compensation for a personal injury, the injured person must be completely blameless. Under this line of thinking, a person injured by a drunk driver running a stop sign may be denied compensation because he or she was speeding and could have avoided the collision had he or she been traveling at or below the legal limit. Of course, this is not the case. Florida’s rule of comparative negligence is much more forgiving to injured plaintiffs, allowing them to obtain compensation even when their own actions may have played a partial role in the accident.
Florida Statute 768.81 establishes the comparative fault system that apportions fault between the plaintiff and defendants on a percentage basis and then reduces the plaintiff’s award in proportion. This means that as long as at least one defendant’s negligence contributed to an accident, the plaintiff can still recover something, even if his or her own negligence was much greater. Consider the following:
- A plaintiff who suffers injuries and losses amounting to $500,000 and is determined to be 50 percent at fault for the accident can still recover $250,000.
- A plaintiff with the same damages who is determined to be 90 percent at fault can still recover $50,000 — 10 percent of her losses — even though her own fault far exceeded that of the defendant.
This knowledge should be reassuring to those who are injured in an accident but fear they did not do everything possible to prevent it.
While contributory negligence can have an impact on the value of your claim, it is almost never a complete bar to recovery in Fort Lauderdale. Consult an attorney who can examine the individual facts and circumstances of your auto accident case and determine the compensation to which you may be entitled.