You may not be surprised to learn that accidents are the top reason that people in Miami and throughout the US visit the emergency rooms. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that unintentional falls accounted for almost 8.6 million nonfatal injuries and motor vehicle crashes caused harm to more than 2.5 million people in 2017.
What may come as a surprise is that, though many of these victims had rights under Florida personal injury laws, there are laws that may place limitations on recovering compensation. This is due to state law regarding comparative fault, which may apply in your case if you are injured in an accident. You should discuss your circumstances with a Miami personal injury attorney, but read on for some important information.
Legal Basis for Personal Injury Claims
Whether it is a car accident, slip and fall, or other incident that caused your injuries, these cases generally proceed under the legal theory of negligence. To obtain monetary damages, you must prove:
- The responsible party had a duty to exercise reasonable care, such as when driving or maintaining property, or operating a business;
- That person or entity failed in this duty through careless or reckless conduct;
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident in which you were injured; and,
- You sustained physical, emotional, and financial losses because of being hurt.
In many of these accident cases, you will first seek compensation by filing an injury claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. If the insurer is unwilling to resolve your claim with a reasonable settlement offer, you may have to take the matter to court by initiating litigation.
Consequences of Comparative Negligence
Even when you can prove the above elements with solid evidence, the statute on comparative fault may reduce the amount of compensation you can recover. The reduction is based upon the percentage of blame attributable to your actions, so your damages may go from $10,000 to $8,000 if you were 20% at fault.
Comparative fault will likely come up when you are attempting to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. The claims adjuster may blame you for the accident, and reduce the offer accordingly. Plus, this issue will also arise at trial if you file a lawsuit for your injuries.
Examples of Comparative Fault
To illustrate how comparative negligence works in Florida, some hypothetical scenarios may be helpful.
- You were driving five miles over the speed limit, but the other driver ran through a red light.
- The handrail on a staircase at a store was loose, but you were sliding down it when you fell.
- A motorist failed to yield to you as a pedestrian, but you were jaywalking when struck.
Speak to a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for Free
Florida’s comparative fault statute can present challenges in many personal injury claims, but there are ways to counter the effect of the law. To learn more about your rights, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We are happy to meet with you for a no-cost case assessment at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.
(image courtesy of Lionello Delpiccolo)