A common question we receive after a car accident is “Can I recover for my injuries in a car accident even though I’m partially at fault?” The answer in Florida is maybe.
Most car accident cases are pursued based on a theory of Negligence. A Defendant will attempt to limit his/her liability in a Negligence case by attributing fault to the Plaintiff, which, in turn, will limit a portion of what the Plaintiff entitlement for his or her injuries.
Generally, there are three systems for apportionment of fault: (1) Contributory Negligence; (2) Pure Comparative Negligence; and (3) Partial Comparative Negligence.
Contributory Negligence is negligence on the part of the Plaintiff that contributes to his or her own injuries. In this type of system, if a Plaintiff is found to have engaged in Contributory Negligence, he or she is prohibited from recovering from a Defendant’s otherwise negligent conduct (even if the Plaintiff is only 1% at fault). This harsh system is followed in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.
In a Pure Comparative Negligence state, apportionment of damages reflects apportionment of fault. States that have adopted a Pure Comparative Negligence system allow a Plaintiff to recover for his injuries no matter how great his or her own negligence. For example, if a Plaintiff is 60% responsible for an accident and a Defendant is 40% responsible for an accident, a Plaintiff may recover from the Defendant 40% of the total damages suffered. This system is followed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.
Partial Comparative Negligence allows a Plaintiff to recover for his injuries in a Negligence action if the defendant is 50% or 51% at fault for the accident in question (slight variation in percentages from state to state). In other words, a Plaintiff may not recover for injuries if responsible for 50% or more for the accident in question. This system is followed in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. (Note: South Dakota is the only state to use a Modified version of a Pure Comparative fault system based on Slight/Gross Negligence).
In sum, Florida has adopted a Pure Comparative Negligence system of fault. This allows a driver to recover for his or her injuries not matter how at fault he may have been for the accident in question. However, the amount a Plaintiff is entitled to recover for his injuries does directly reflect his own percentage of fault.
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at (888) 450-4909.