How Comparative Negligence Affects a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit
Basics of a Personal Injury Case
While generally state law governs personal injury cases, there is an exception to this rule. If an accident involves parties from differing states or countries, federal or even international law may apply to the matter. Outside of this exception, most personal injury cases are filed with the appropriate court within the state in which the accident occurred. There are several types of personal injury cases, including:
- Auto, truck or road accidents – depending on the facts of the case, an injured party may recover damages from the other driver, the insurance company or a third party; some states have no-fault insurance, which means the insurance company for each driver pays for its own policyholder, regardless of who was at fault;
- Workers’ compensation – when someone is injured on the job (or while acting within his or her scope of employment) he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation from the employer; if the victim is a contract worker, however, a suit may need to be filed directly against the employer instead;
- Premises liability – because an injury may occur at any place and time, depending on the facts of the case at hand an owner or renter of the property may be liable for injuries due to negligence;
- Medical malpractice –medical treatment by a doctor (or any other healthcare provider) outside of the reasonable standard of care for the appropriate profession and area, whether intended or not, may result in injury or even death and liability insurance carrier is often the defendant in the suit; and
- Industrial disease injuries – victims may have injuries due to work or working conditions, such as exposure to toxic chemicals or environments.
Comparative Fault and Damages
The legal issues in personal injury cases are not black and white. While generally, the facts can point to one party being at fault often times liability is not so clear. A seasoned Florida personal injury attorney will delve deeply into a plaintiff’s case to seek the maximum compensation his or her client deserves.
Deciding which party is at fault in personal injury cases is extremely important, as this also determines who is responsible for paying damages. Monetary damages in a personal injury case may include compensation to cover medical bills, loss of past and future income, and/or temporary or permanent disability, among others.
The manner in which negligence is determined depends upon the governing law of the personal injury case. Generally, there are three types of negligence theories that may be used by a court when determining the amount of compensatory damages owed to a personal injury victim.
- Strict comparative negligence: under this theory, a plaintiff may seek damages even if she or he is found to be partially liable for injuries. Damages are awarded strictly as a percentage of the responsibility found for each party.
- Modified comparative negligence: this theory of liability further limits plaintiffs’ ability to file a claim if found more liable for the accident than the defendant. States that follow this rule allow a party to recuperate losses only if he or she is found to be less than 50 percent responsible.
- Contributory negligence: under this rule, there is an “all-or-nothing” determination. In order for a plaintiff to be awarded damages, he or she cannot be found responsible for any portion – none whatsoever – of the injuries resulting from the accident.
Florida is a comparative negligence state. In other words, if both parties are found to have shared the blame for the injuries and damages incurred, a plaintiff may still recover but only proportionate to the amount found to be at fault.
Tampa Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or someone you know has been injured because of the negligence or misconduct of another, the burden of medical bills, loss of income and suffering should not be enhanced by the legal complexities of a personal injury lawsuit. Rather, the party responsible for injuries should be held accountable for compensating a victim for damages incurred. The legal professionals at Reed & Reed work hard to ensure their clients get the best recovery and do not believe the injured should settle for less and aggressive representation. From our office in Brandon, we help clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida. Contact Reed & Reed for a free consultation.