When thinking about fault in a car accident, many people believe that it is a very cut-and-dry determination: one driver is at-fault for the car accident and is responsible for the injuries and property damage experienced by another. However, while some cases are just like that, many times fault isn’t always clear. Some car accidents are the result of negligence on the part of both drivers. Some accidents involve several drivers and several vehicles. Other times, liability was clear, but the at-fault party’s insurance provider is trying to avoid a payout by convincing the claimant that they were to blame.
It is important to note that, regardless of which scenario best reflects your case, your ability to file a claim relies on what the evidence says and what can be proven in court far more than it relies on what the insurance company says.
How Liability is Determined After a Car Accident
Liability is usually the result of negligence. Negligence is proven by showing the following elements in your case:
- The at-fault party owed a duty of care to other roadway users. This simply means that the driver was expected to take certain, reasonable actions in a given set of circumstances in order to avoid causing harm to others. The duty of care owed by drivers is to operate the motor vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care, which means the driver took actions that were contrary to the care that was owed. Examples of driving behaviors that would be considered a breach in a driver’s duty of care include speeding, distracted driving, impairment by alcohol or drugs, fatigued driving, road rage, or failure to yield.
- The breach in the duty of care resulted in the accident.
Unfortunately, while showing the elements of negligence is the proper way to determine liability, many cases become more complex when other methods are used to attempt a liability determination. These methods include:
- The drivers deciding — often with finger-pointing or even yelling — who was at fault while on the scene.
- The claimant lets the insurance company decide what their claim is worth. Insurance companies will usually not opt on their own to pay the full amount of a claim.
Insurance Companies Aren’t Always Honest About Fault
Insurance companies are in the business to make money. In order to do this, they hire insurance adjusters to evaluate the claims made against their insured, investigate the claims, and to find reasons to reduce — or even eliminate — the amount of compensation available. Because of this, it is important to remember that insurance adjusters are not legally required to be honest with you, and they’re not in the business to help you.
Some of the lies that insurance companies will tell about fault include:
- The amount they’re offering is the maximum amount available for your claim due to your portion of liability.
- The pain you are currently experiencing is all or mostly due to a pre-existing injury that they are not responsible to compensate.
- The police report indicates that you were at-fault, and there is no information that you can provide to them that will contradict the report.
Florida’s Shared Fault Rules
There are more than 300,000 car accidents in Florida each year, and more than 100,000 of those accidents result in injury. This means that many people are currently in the same position as you: trying to determine who was at fault and whether they’re eligible to file a claim.
Florida follows a “pure comparative fault” rule in car accident cases. What this means is that if you were partially to blame for the accident that caused your injuries, you can still seek compensation from other at-fault parties. However, the compensation you receive will be reduced by the percentage of blame for the accident that you bear. For example, if you were found to be 10 percent at fault for the accident and you received an award for $100,000, your award would be reduced by 10 percent to account for your share of the fault.
How an Accident Attorney Can Help
Saying someone is at-fault for a car accident is one thing; proving it is another. Hiring an experienced Miami car accident attorney to assist you with your claim is crucial to a successful outcome because your attorney knows how to:
- Determine all sources of liability in the accident and all insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you.
- Negotiate with an insurance adjuster and not fall victim to their tactics for reducing the claim.
- Obtain the evidence and witness testimony needed to build your case.
Let’s talk about the facts of your case and the legal options that are available for you as you seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. Contact us today to discuss your case.