A total of 171,575 civil cases reached a disposition in circuit courts across the state of Florida in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and over one million civil cases reached a disposition in county courts during the same period. Everyday, various civil disputes are initiated, tried, and decided in courts all over the state.
However, although there are many people who have a mild understanding of how our judicial system functions in our home state and in the United States in general, there many individuals who do not fully understand the laws that govern our actions and aford us our rights. If you have been involved in a car accident, you certainly shouldn’t try to learn the intricacies of the legal system as you go, because some of our state’s laws might surprise you.
What are Comparative Fault Laws in Florida?
If you are involved in a car accident, the at-fault driver in most circumstances has committed a form of negligence that caused the accident to occur. Negligence can be voluntary or involuntary. So, the at-fault party does not have to purposely cause the accident to occur in order to commit a negligent act. Under Florida law, both parties can be deemed to have been “at-fault” to a certain degree in a negligence claim under F.S.768.81(2). Florida Statute 768.81 is known as Florida’s “Comparative Fault” statute, and it applies to all negligence claims.
In What Types of Cases do Comparative Fault Laws Apply?
Florida’s comparative fault system is used in all negligence cases initiated in state courts, and although causing a car accident is a common negligent act, the comparative fault statute applies to other forms of negligence as well such as:
- Medical Malpractice
- Wrongful Death
- Slip and Fall
How Does a Comparative Fault Law Affect a Car Accident Case?
When a judge or a jury utilizes the comparative fault system, they will normally assign each party a percentage that quantifies the amount responsibility they had in causing the negligent act to occur.
Damage Assessment in a Florida Car Accident Case
For example, if you were involved in an auto accident and the other driver was deemed to be at-fault due to their violation of a traffic law, you could be found to have been partially responsible for the accident, if the other driver’s attorney could prove you were texting at the time of the accident.
The jury in the case could find that you were 40% responsible for the accident, and the other driver was 60% responsible for the accident. The jury could also find that one party was 100% responsible for the car crash. The determination really depends on the unique facts of the case.
Damages After Comparative Fault has been Determined
Under F.S.768.81(3), if you are found to have been responsible for part of the your auto accident, your damages will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to you by the jury. For example, if you are found to have been 40% responsible for the car crash in our previous example, the damages that you are awarded in connection with the accident will be reduced by 40%.
How does an Attorney Help Minimize Comparative Fault Allegations
Florida’s comparative fault system demonstrates why you should always contact a car accident lawyer in Tampa, FL if you are involved in an auto accident. Your lawyer will argue and demonstrate that the other driver was completely or 100% at fault for the accident. This is normally accomplished through gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and cross examining the other driver. In fact, in many cases, an attorney can negotiate a settlement outside of court, which will eliminate the risks associated with with initiating a negligence suit under the comparable fault system.