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What is comparative fault in Florida?

Determining fault after a car accident is not always crystal-clear. Perhaps one person was making a left-hand turn while another person came speeding down the road, resulting in a collision. Or take the example of a driver who skids on a slippery road, colliding with a second car, which then goes on to collide with a third car. If a person is partially at fault for a car accident in Florida, can they still pursue compensation? While this blog is not to be considered legal advice, in some cases the answer is yes, they can still seek damages, based on something called comparative fault in Florida.

Per Florida law, when it comes to a negligence action, the damages awarded will be diminished proportionately to the fault attributed to the claimant. However, this will not bar recovery entirely. The judgment will be entered against each party based on the percent that party is at fault. For example, if a person is found to be 30 percent at fault for an accident, they will receive only 70 percent of the total award.

For the purposes of comparative fault in Florida, actions include those brought on a theory of negligence or strict liability. In general, to prove negligence one must show that there was a duty owed to the plaintiff that the defendant breached, causing the defendant to suffer damages. The injury must be both proximately and actually caused by the defendant’s actions.

As this shows, sorting out liability in a negligence action following a car crash can be nuanced due to comparative fault in Florida. It takes a great deal of knowledge, and often necessitates the help of professionals. However, with the right help car accident victims can seek the financial recovery they need to meet the many expenses that follow a car crash.

Source: The 2014 Florida Statutes, “768.81 Comparative fault,” accessed Jan. 25, 2015

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