Understanding Comparative Negligence in Florida
The State of Florida follows the pure comparative negligence rule.
Comparative negligence is frequently argued by the defendant in a personal injury case.
It reduces your amount of compensation when you were partially at fault in causing your accident.
Under the general rule of comparative negligence, your percentage of fault reduces your damages award.
The pure comparative negligence rule means that you can still recover some compensation no matter how high your percentage of fault.
For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but were 80% at fault in causing your accident, you can still recover $20,000.
If you believe you were partially at fault in causing your accident, a Florida personal injury lawyer can help you understand how comparative negligence might affect your amount of recovery.
Florida Negligence Laws at a Glance
In addition to comparative negligence, the following Florida negligence laws can have a substantial impact on your personal injury case.
Release or Covenant Not to Sue
A release or covenant not to sue is an agreement by a plaintiff not to sue a particular defendant.
This rule might come into play when you participate in a hazardous activity, such as riding on a boat, and promise not to sue the operator if you are injured.
It also might happen when you reach a settlement with a potential defendant and promise not to pursue a lawsuit in return for them paying an agreed amount of money for your damages.
However, the covenant releases only the defendant specified in it. It does not release any other defendant who is liable for the plaintiff’s injury.
For example, if you were injured in a boat crash with another boat and had released your boat’s operator, you could still sue the operator of the other boat based on their percentage of fault for your injuries.
Or if two individuals shared responsibility for your injury and you entered into a settlement with one of them, you could still sue the second defendant for their share of your injury.
Damages are compensation you receive for your injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. The amount of damages you can recover differs depending on the facts of your case.
There are two types of damages you can recover in Florida personal injury cases: special damages and general damages.
Special damages include economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills,
- Expenses for property damage, and
- Lost wages.
On the other hand, general damages include emotional damages such as pain and suffering. A Florida personal injury lawyer can help you determine which type of damages you may be able to recover.
Joint and Several Liability
Joint and several liability applies to personal injury cases in which there are multiple defendants.
Under this rule, each defendant is jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of the plaintiff’s damages.
However, joint and several liability is no longer the rule in Florida. In Florida, defendants in personal injury cases are liable only for their percentage of fault.
For example, John was injured in a car accident with two other drivers, Alex and Matt. John suffered $100,000 in damages from the accident. Alex was 40% at fault, Matt was 50% at fault, and John was 10% at fault.
In some states, John could sue Matt or Alex for $90,000 and recover the whole amount. Then whomever he sued could seek contribution from the other defendant for their share of the damages.
But in Florida, John cannot sue Matt or Alex for $90,000. He can only sue Matt for $50,000 and Alex for $40,000 based on their percentages of fault. John can’t recover the full $100,000 either because he was 10% at fault.
If your case involves multiple defendants, a Florida personal injury attorney can help you understand how much compensation you can recover from each defendant.
How a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You
Florida comparative negligence can be complex to understand. If you were injured but were partially at fault in causing your accident, a Florida personal injury attorney can help you understand the effect it has on your potential compensation.
The experienced personal injury lawyers at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon will strive to minimize the effect of comparative negligence on your compensation as much as possible. Contact us online or call (850) 444-4878 today to schedule your free consultation.