Sharing The Blame: Comparative Negligence in Florida Car Accidents

Once the victims of a serious Florida car crash have been taken care of, and family and friends have gradually recovered from the emotional shock, the topic quickly moves to how the accident was caused, who was negligent and at fault.

Black-and-white situations are rapidly dealt with, but more often than not the picture is blurred, as more than one party may have contributed to or aggravated the collision.

Your case rests on the assumption that you suffered considerable damage - pain, suffering, medical costs, rehabilitation costs, loss of wages, material damage, loss of companionship - due to an accident caused by someone else, who can be held liable and must pay you compensation. But what happens when the defendant retorts that your own action or traffic violation significantly contributed to the crash?

What happens, say, if crossing the intersection with lights on green, you hit a left-turning vehicle that crossed into your path from the opposite direction, but it would appear that you were driving over the speed limit?

How do you deal with shared blame?

In Florida, the principle of law that is applicable to cases where the causation or negligence is shared is called Pure Comparative Negligence. It means that if the injured party (the plaintiff) is partly to blame for the accident, a jury will determine the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff and whatever settlement is reached with the defendant to compensate the plaintiff, that percentage will be deducted from the amount due.

Some states apply the Pure Contributory Negligence rule, which would bar the plaintiff from recovering anything if he or she is found to have contributed to the accident, even in a small proportion. Florida lawmakers have fortunately stayed away from this harsh system.

Attributing percentages to define each party's responsibility is, however, a very subjective exercise and this is precisely where an experienced Central and North East Florida car accident attorney can help you.

If you have been hurt in a car accident caused by someone else, call the Daytona Beach attorneys of Johnson & Gilbert PA today toll free at (800) 556-8890 and locally at (386) 673-4412 or send us an email to arrange a free consultation.