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Miami, Florida

Contributory Fault

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Contributory Fault

If someone causes you harm or injury, you may be able to hold them financially liable for your damages. You can sue the at-fault party for negligence to recover your financial losses and non-economic damages (pain and suffering). 

Negligence claims are based on common law torts. Torts are omissions or acts that cause another person to be harmed or injured.

Proving negligence requires that you show:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty
  • The person breached the duty of care
  • The person’s conduct was a direct and proximate cause of your injuries
  • You sustained damages

You can recover money for a personal injury claim by proving all four elements by “a preponderance of the evidence.” This means your version of events is more likely than not.

However, Florida and all other states have adopted laws related to comparative/contributory negligence. These laws can reduce the amount of money you receive for a car accident, motorcycle crash, truck accident, or other personal injury.

Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence 

Only four states and the District of Columbia use contributory negligence for personal injury claims. This standard is the harshest in the law.

Under this standard, an injury victim cannot recover damages if they contributed to their injury or accident in any way. For example, a car accident victim cannot receive any money for medical bills, pain, or lost wages if they share 1% of fault.

Comparative negligence allows an accident victim to recover some compensation even if they are partially to blame for the accident. However, the victim’s compensation will be decreased by their percentage of fault.

For example, if a jury found that the accident victim was 50 percent at fault, the victim’s compensation would be reduced by one-half. So instead of receiving $350,000 for their damages, they would receive $150,000.

Some jurisdictions use a doctrine known as modified comparative fault. These states permit injury victims to recover compensation so long as they are not over 50% or 51% responsible for their accident, depending on the state. If the victim is under the percentage, their damages will be reduced to account for their share of fault. If they are over the percentage, they cannot recover any damages.

What Negligence Standard Does Florida Use?

On March 24, 2023, Florida adopted a modified comparative fault standard with a 51% bar for allocating damages in a personal injury case. If the victim’s percentage of fault exceeds 50%, they’re barred from seeking a financial recovery.

Prior to 3/24/23, the state implemented a pure comparative fault system. Comparative fault is another term used for comparative negligence. 

In a pure comparative fault state, the accident victim could be 99 percent at fault and still recover one percent of their damages. However, under Florida’s modified comparative fault approach, an accident victim can only recover compensation if their percentage of fault is 50% or lower.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Allegations of Fault?

Insurance companies like to use comparative negligence to reduce the value of personal injury claims — or prevent them entirely. Claims adjusters and investigators will try to shift the blame for your accident to you.

Things that you can do to protect your right to recover fair compensation for your injuries include:

  • Never admit fault for an accident
  • Seek immediate medical care after an injury or accident
  • Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than law enforcement, doctors, and lawyers
  • Stop using social media accounts until you speak with a personal injury attorney
  • Do not agree to provide a statement or answer questions for the insurance company until you consult with an accident lawyer
  • Keep detailed notes of all communications with your doctors and the insurance company

As soon as possible, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case. An attorney can review the circumstances that led to your injury to determine if you could be partially at fault. Attorneys have significantly more resources to investigate these cases than you do.

If you were partially to blame for the cause of your injury, you must take steps to minimize your liability. The lower the percentage of fault assigned to you for the cause of the accident, the more money you can receive for your damages

An attorney understands how to gather evidence and use that evidence to reduce your liability as much as possible. Lawyers are also familiar with how insurance companies blame accident victims to save money. Your attorney can fight these allegations to protect your right to damages. 

Contact Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you are being blamed for contributing to the cause of your injury, you need legal advice immediately. Contact our law office in Miami, FL, at (305) 937-0191 to schedule a free case review with one of our Florida attorneys at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers. Get the facts about your personal injury case from a trusted accident attorney.