Accidents happen. Sometimes bad things happen that are totally out of our control and no one is to blame. Other times, a person acts negligently, carelessly, or willfully and another person is harmed as a result. When this happens, the person who is injured often has the right to seek compensation from the person whose actions caused his injuries to cover his medical bills and other losses. In Florida, and many other states, however, there is a law that allows for the possibility that more than one party’s actions led to the accident. Known as comparative negligence, this can be a challenging factor when trying to settle a personal injury claim.
How Comparative Negligence Works
In many personal injury claims, it can be argued that more than one party contributed to the accident and injured victims are often forced to fight claims that they were partially at fault. For example, if you reach out to pet a dog who then bites you, it could be argued that you contributed by approaching the animal. If you slip on an icy sidewalk, it could be argued that you should have seen the risk and avoided it. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side will become very important if you find yourself being blamed in part for the incident that left you injured.
Apportioning fault is not just a theoretical exercise. Once a percentage of blame is assigned to each party, the amount of compensation he or she will be able to collect will be lowered by that amount. The following are some examples:
- In a car accident, Car A fails to yield when turning left at a green light and turns into the path of Car B, who is legally going straight through the intersection. However, it is determined that Car B was speeding at the time of the accident. Car A is assigned 80 percent of the fault and Car B is assigned 20 percent. The driver of Car B suffers catastrophic injuries, but the amount he will be able to collect form Car A’s insurance company will be reduced by 20 percent.
- A shopper slips and falls at the entrance to a supermarket on a snowy day and breaks her hip. The store argues that the shopper should have known that the floor would be slippery given the weather conditions and the judge agrees, assigning her 40 percent of the blame. She will now only be able to collect 60 percent of the damages she is owed by the store.
How an Attorney Can Help
In all of these examples, evidence could be presented to lower or eliminate the victim’s percentage of fault. An experienced personal injury attorney will do just that. Surveillance video, witness statements, driving records, and other evidence can be presented to strengthen the victim’s argument that he or she is not to blame. If you were injured and don’t believe you were to blame in any way, contact Clifton Law Office today. I will discuss your case in a free consultation.