Imagine you get into a serious car accident and are badly injured. The other driver was looking at their smartphone just before the collision, but you were driving five miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Now you are worried that you cannot pursue a personal injury claim because you might be partly at fault for the accident.
In real life, things are rarely black and white. While there are auto accidents that are 100% one motorist’s fault, often several factors cause a crash to occur. Like many states, Florida recognizes this reality by using comparative negligence in its personal injury law.
How comparative negligence works
Decades ago, if a jury found that the plaintiff negligently contributed even slightly to their own injuries, the plaintiff could not collect any damages. Today, the law is more realistic and less cruel to injured people. The state of Florida uses a pure competitive negligence standard, which means the amount that you are found negligent will limit the amount that you may recover. In other words, the amount you are eligible for is reduced by the percentage the jury finds you contributed to the incident that harmed you.
Using the car accident example from the beginning of this post, let us say that you sustained $100,000 in damages, including lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. You sue the defendant and win. The jury agrees that your damages total $100,000. They find the defendant 90% liable and you 10% liable. Therefore, your compensation would be reduced by 10% of $100,000, or $10,000, for a total of $90,000.
Find out more about your case
Determining comparative fault can be complicated. Before you decide what to do about your case, consult an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she will go over what happened to you, explain the process step by step, and evaluate what is likely to happen in your case.