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Comparative Negligence and Diminished Awards

When a person experiences an accident or injury, there are a lot of unanswered questions at first. How did this happen? Will I be okay? How will I pay for treatment? These thoughts can feel overwhelming until the facts are sorted out.

One of the most important facts in a personal injury claim has to due with the degree of fault, sometimes referred to as "comparative negligence." Comparative negligence can affect the amount of benefits a victim can receive after an accident or injury. 
An accident or injury attorney can help you sort out the details, from the cause of the accident to the delivery of important medical benefits. Call our injury law firm today to learn more about your options and for a free injury consultation.

Negligence: The Basis of a Personal Injury Claim

Human beings are social creatures, and because of that, we tend to look out for each other's wellbeing. This idea has integrated its way into the law through the concept of negligence and due care. A person is considered negligent when they do not try within their ability to prevent someone else from becoming injured. Common examples of negligence include an apartment manager failing to repair broken stairs after being repeatedly told about the problem or even a driver who rear ends another car because they were distracted by their cell phone.

Negligence is the basis of a claim for personal injury benefits. Someone has acted irresponsibly, and therefore they should be held accountable for the damage they have caused. But what if the victim played a small part in the accident?

 

Comparative Negligence

Unfortunately, not all accidents or injury claims are easy to sort out. Some details can be unclear or simply unknown. In serious accidents, it may be difficult to determine exactly whose actions caused the event and who should be held responsible. Sometimes, these details can change the victim's right to claim benefits.

How does comparative fault work? Consider this example: you are driving your car and attempting to make a turn. You see a vehicle coming towards you as you make the turn, but they violate your right of way. Even though you see the other car, you continue with the turn and end up colliding with the vehicle. The police officer that responds to the accident scene lists the other driver as the one at fault, but there is some evidence that your actions contributed to the crash as well.

Depending on who assesses your claim and determines benefits, the damages you recover could be lowered based on the fact that you played a part in the event.

How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Claim

Each state has its own laws regarding comparative negligence. In some states, establishing that the victim or plaintiff actually contributed to the accident can prevent them from collecting any benefits at all. If a claimant is comparatively negligent in Florida, however, their case may still proceed and come to a successful conclusion. Florida statute §768.81 states that comparative fault "diminishes…the amount awarded" to the claimant on a proportional basis. So if you are found to be 30% at fault for the accident, and the insurance company would have paid $10,000 for your claim, they will diminish your award by 30% to compensate for the fact that you were partially at fault.

Difficulty with Comparative Negligence

Some insurance companies may try to find any reason to deny an auto accident claim, and comparative negligence can lead to a dispute over benefits. Without an attorney, it can be very difficult to convince an insurance company that you are still entitled to collect benefits.

Being partially at fault for an accident may not ruin your claim. These cases become complex very quickly, so it is best to have an accident attorney on your side working to defend your interests. Contact our accident law firm today for a free consultation on an injury claim. We want to help you recover from a car accident.

 

Call 407.648.4940 or contact Coye Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

The expert injury attorneys at Coye Law Firm are experienced with Florida, New York, Michigan, and District of Columbia law and are here to help the injured.

If you'd like to learn more about injury law and your rights, read my book, Sharing the Secrets, Learning the Lies: A Guide to Florida Personal Injury

From this book you will learn… 

  1. The ONE THING you must do within 14 days of your accident (page 46)
  2. The two most important factors in determining case value (page 8)
  3. How to understand what your insurance will and will not cover (chapter 3)
  4. 6 critical steps you must take after an accident (chapter 7)
  5. Why you should not trust the insurance company’s repair shop (page 78)
  6. How to choose the right doctor (chapter 5)
  7. A claim you could make against your own insurance company if your car is damaged, but not totaled (page 87)
  8. The secrets to getting a fair settlement (chapter 10)
  9. An 8-step breakdown of the normal process for lawsuits (page 121)
  10. The one 4-letter word that might cost you (chapter 12)
  11. How to start gathering the most important evidence you need (page 75)
  12. …and more!

Click here to receive your FREE copy now.