When you suffer injuries or other losses in a car crash in Miami or anywhere else in Florida, you will typically have the option of filing a claim with your own insurer. Comparative negligence comes into play, typically, in this suit. This is because Florida is a no-fault state. In a no-fault state, the medical costs, property damage, and other losses are borne by your own insurer thanks to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. This remains the case regardless of who actually caused the crash.
However, there are exceptions to Florida’s no-fault laws. For instance, if a driver deliberately caused a crash, or if the injuries and other damages sustained in a crash exceed a certain threshold, you have other options. You can then file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer or proceed with a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover a suitable amount of compensation.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver, Florida’s comparative negligence law comes into play. This law has a direct bearing on the amount of damages you can expect to recover in the lawsuit. This is why it is critically important to understand what this law is and how it works in the case of personal injury lawsuits in Miami and the rest of Florida.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a way of settling the issue of ‘fault’ in a car accident. When using comparative negligence laws, the fault is distributed among all the parties who were at fault. This means that more than one person may be held negligent by the judge and the jury. When that is the case, comparative negligence is used to ascribe a specific percentage of fault to each party.
To cite an example, suppose you are driving along a road. As you pass through the intersection, a second vehicle hits you. A jury later finds that this vehicle ran a red light and caused the crash. But further investigations reveal that you were also speeding at the time.
So both you and the other driver were negligent, although your degree of fault differs. The jury is then likely to ascribe a small percentage of fault to you and assign the bulk of the fault to the other driver. The distribution percentages may be 90/10, 80/20, 70/30 or virtually any other combination that yields the sum of 100%.
Now, some states use a pure comparative negligence law while others adopt a modified form of the law. In the modified form of the law, you can recover compensation as a plaintiff as long as your percentage of fault is no more than 49% or 50%. When your fault is above this threshold limit, you are entitled to no compensation.
The good news is that Florida uses a pure comparative negligence law. Here’s a look at how this law works.
Florida’s Pure Comparative Negligence
As per the pure comparative negligence law, as defined in Florida Statutes 768.81, you can recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit regardless of your percentage of fault. This means that even if a jury finds you 99% at fault, you can still recover compensatory damages. The upside to this is that you are able to get damages even when you are partly or mostly at fault in a crash.
However, seeking compensation is not always suitable when you are found mostly at fault. This is because of the way your percentage of fault impacts your payout.
How Comparative Negligence Impacts Amount of Damages?
The amount of damages you are going to receive will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. For instance, if you are 99% at fault, you are entitled to only 1% of the damages. If the jury ruled that you should receive $10,000 but you were 99% at fault, you end up receiving only 1% or $100. Similarly, any amount of damages you should get is reduced by the percentage of fault a court assigns you.
There is also another key consideration when you are found more than 50% at fault. The other party, who is less at fault than you in such a scenario, can counter-sue you for damages. As your percentage of fault is greater, you will have to pay up more than the damages you end up receiving. So it is best to consult a good attorney before you decide whether or not to seek damages in a car crash.
Hiring a Miami Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered a car crash in Miami, you should consult a lawyer at the earliest. A good lawyer will help you determine whether a tort lawsuit to seek damages is suitable for you. Here at Englander Peebles Attorneys At Law, we help Miami car crash victims recover a fair amount of compensation. Call us today to discuss your crash claim.