Today, we’ll be discussing comparative fault and the apportionment of liability as part four of our four-part series on personal injury law in Florida. Comparative fault examines the responsibility both parties have to exercise reasonable care to prevent an injury-causing accident. When you are partially at fault in causing an accident where you are injured, your role in contributing to the circumstances of the accident can reduce your financial recovery.
For example, in a collision where a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian, a court might examine whether the pedestrian had attempted to cross a road without using a crosswalk, or failed to ensure that traffic had come to a complete stop before entering the crosswalk. The court could also try to determine if the driver of the vehicle had obeyed the traffic signal, was traveling at an appropriate speed and had maintained the condition of the vehicle (brakes, tires, etc) in good working order.
In a situation where both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent, the jury will be instructed to allocate fault to both parties, usually as a percentage. For example, a jury might find that the plaintiff was 30% at fault and the defendant was 70% at fault. On those facts, each party would pay their proportionate share of the plaintiff's damages. Again using the above facts for illustration, if the jury awarded total damages of $100,000, the plaintiff would be entitled to a judgment for 70% of that amount, or $70,000.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, please give us a call to discuss your case. Your initial consultation is free.