Playing the Blame Game: Allocating Damages Based on Fault in Florida Personal Injury Claims
After any Florida accident where one party is injured due to someone else’s negligence, one of the key questions becomes how fault should be allocated and how much the injured party can recover from that accident. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident, the amount of liability and damages hinges on how much fault can be apportioned to the negligent party.
Apportioning Fault in Florida Personal Injury Claims
Under Florida law, to prove negligence, you must prove three elements:
- The existence of a duty of care owed by the defendant;
- The defendant breached that duty of care; and
- That the breach of duty caused your injury/damages.
However, even if an injured party proves a defendant is negligent, oftentimes a defendant is not 100 percent to blame for an accident. Rather, courts apportion fault at a certain percentage to both the injured party and the defendant. To apportion damages in a negligence case, Florida law applies a pure comparative negligence standard. This means if an injured party is found to be partially at fault, their damages are proportionately limited by the percentage that party is deemed to be at fault. Consequently, an injured party may still recover damages even if a court finds they are 90 percent at fault for their injury.
How to Prove Blame
Given the importance of establishing a greater degree of fault under the pure comparative negligence standard, injured parties should take affirmative steps to strengthen their case. Injured parties should take photos or videos of the area where the accident occurred as close to the timing of the accident as possible. Injured parties should also make a list of all witnesses who saw the accident and the contact information of those witnesses, so they can potentially testify to what they saw.
Examples of Recoverable Damages
Damages are meant to compensate an injured party for harm or injury suffered as a result of another’s negligence. Although Florida law provides that any contributory fault a court apportions to an injured party reduces their recoverable damages, an injured party may still be able to receive some compensation for their injury. Some common forms of damages in personal injury cases include medical bills, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering.
How to Apply Pure Comparative Negligence to Calculated Damages
Do you have questions about how pure comparative negligence applies? By way of example, say you are in a car accident where the other driver ran a stoplight and crashed into you. However, you are partially to blame because you were jaywalking a few inches shy of the crosswalk. Accordingly, you may be 10 percent at fault while the driver is 90 percent at fault. Your damages for the accident and resulting injury total $10,000. Under Florida’s pure comparative negligence statute, your compensation would be reduced to $9,000 (the $10,000 total minus $1,000 attributable to your share of the fault).
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, it is important to hire a personal injury attorney who can help you determine how much blame should be apportioned to the negligent party. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Lesser, Lesser, Landy, & Smith, PLLC in West Palm Beach, Stuart and Boca Raton can help you evaluate the merits of your case and act quickly to ensure you are appropriately compensated for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.