The term “negligence” is legal jargon for carelessness or recklessness. When someone is negligent and causes an accident that leads to injuries or death, they are legally responsible for those damages. However, there are many situations where more than one person is at fault for a car or truck accident, and that person might be you—the plaintiff who is asserting a legal claim against another driver. What happens when you are partially at fault for an accident? As North Miami Beach Car Accident Lawyers, we have the answer.
When more than one person is at fault for an accident, a jury or judge will assign each person partially to blame a percentage of fault. The total must be 100%. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard. That means that your portion of the responsibility will reduce the amount of damages that you can claim in a lawsuit, but it will never completely bar your claim.
Consider an example. Imagine you are going through an intersection. You do not have a stop sign, but another car to your right does. You are speeding, and the car to your right ignores the stop sign and runs right into you. The other vehicle was likely more at fault, so the jury assigns it 75% of the blame. Then, they allocate the other 25% to you because you were speeding. That means that your total damage will be reduced by the amount of fault assigned to you. If you have $10,000 in damages, for example, then you will only be able to receive $7,500 from the other driver.
In other states, you are not allowed to recover any damages if your portion of the fault is over 51%. This type of system is called a “modified comparative negligence” system. In Florida, however, you can be 99% at fault and still get compensated for the 1% of the damage that was not your fault.
Regardless of how many people are involved in the accident, they should all be assigned a percentage of fault. Then, that driver is only responsible for paying damages up to that percentage.
For example, imagine that you were rear-ended and pushed into an intersection. Another car hits you while you are in the intersection. A jury could assign fault as follows:
The driver that rear-ended you would then be responsible for 80% of the damages and the other driver would have to pay you the rest of the losses.
Florida law used to have joint and several liability for multi-car accidents, which meant that you could get the full amount of your damages from whomever you wanted, as long as they had some percentage of the fault. The law has changed, however, and each driver is only responsible for the portion of the damage that they caused.
Many victims of car accidents make the mistake of assuming that being partially at fault for the crash means that they cannot sue the other driver. Don’t let this common misconception fool you. Contact Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA to set up an appointment with a member of our Aventura car accident team.